Stock Analysis

Cardinal Health, Inc.'s (NYSE:CAH) Intrinsic Value Is Potentially 78% Above Its Share Price

NYSE:CAH
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Key Insights

  • Using the 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity, Cardinal Health fair value estimate is US$133
  • Cardinal Health's US$74.60 share price signals that it might be 44% undervalued
  • Analyst price target for CAH is US$84.06 which is 37% below our fair value estimate

Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Cardinal Health, Inc. (NYSE:CAH) by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. We will take advantage of the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model for this purpose. Don't get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.

Remember though, that there are many ways to estimate a company's value, and a DCF is just one method. If you want to learn more about discounted cash flow, the rationale behind this calculation can be read in detail in the Simply Wall St analysis model.

View our latest analysis for Cardinal Health

The Method

We're using the 2-stage growth model, which simply means we take in account two stages of company's growth. In the initial period the company may have a higher growth rate and the second stage is usually assumed to have a stable growth rate. In the first stage we need to estimate the cash flows to the business over the next ten years. Where possible we use analyst estimates, but when these aren't available we extrapolate the previous free cash flow (FCF) from the last estimate or reported value. We assume companies with shrinking free cash flow will slow their rate of shrinkage, and that companies with growing free cash flow will see their growth rate slow, over this period. We do this to reflect that growth tends to slow more in the early years than it does in later years.

A DCF is all about the idea that a dollar in the future is less valuable than a dollar today, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate

2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$2.00b US$1.94b US$1.83b US$1.83b US$1.90b US$1.91b US$1.92b US$1.95b US$1.98b US$2.01b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x7 Analyst x7 Analyst x6 Analyst x2 Analyst x2 Est @ 0.28% Est @ 0.81% Est @ 1.19% Est @ 1.45% Est @ 1.64%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.1% US$1.9k US$1.7k US$1.5k US$1.4k US$1.4k US$1.3k US$1.2k US$1.1k US$1.1k US$1.0k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$13b

The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business's cash flow after the first stage. For a number of reasons a very conservative growth rate is used that cannot exceed that of a country's GDP growth. In this case we have used the 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield (2.1%) to estimate future growth. In the same way as with the 10-year 'growth' period, we discount future cash flows to today's value, using a cost of equity of 7.1%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2032 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$2.0b× (1 + 2.1%) ÷ (7.1%– 2.1%) = US$41b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$41b÷ ( 1 + 7.1%)10= US$21b

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is US$34b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$74.6, the company appears quite good value at a 44% discount to where the stock price trades currently. Valuations are imprecise instruments though, rather like a telescope - move a few degrees and end up in a different galaxy. Do keep this in mind.

dcf
NYSE:CAH Discounted Cash Flow March 30th 2023

Important Assumptions

Now the most important inputs to a discounted cash flow are the discount rate, and of course, the actual cash flows. You don't have to agree with these inputs, I recommend redoing the calculations yourself and playing with them. The DCF also does not consider the possible cyclicality of an industry, or a company's future capital requirements, so it does not give a full picture of a company's potential performance. Given that we are looking at Cardinal Health as potential shareholders, the cost of equity is used as the discount rate, rather than the cost of capital (or weighted average cost of capital, WACC) which accounts for debt. In this calculation we've used 7.1%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.839. Beta is a measure of a stock's volatility, compared to the market as a whole. We get our beta from the industry average beta of globally comparable companies, with an imposed limit between 0.8 and 2.0, which is a reasonable range for a stable business.

SWOT Analysis for Cardinal Health

Strength
  • Debt is well covered by earnings and cashflows.
Weakness
  • Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the Healthcare market.
Opportunity
  • Expected to breakeven next year.
  • Has sufficient cash runway for more than 3 years based on current free cash flows.
  • Good value based on P/S ratio and estimated fair value.
Threat
  • Total liabilities exceed total assets, which raises the risk of financial distress.
  • Paying a dividend but company is unprofitable.

Moving On:

Whilst important, the DCF calculation ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for a company. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. Instead the best use for a DCF model is to test certain assumptions and theories to see if they would lead to the company being undervalued or overvalued. If a company grows at a different rate, or if its cost of equity or risk free rate changes sharply, the output can look very different. What is the reason for the share price sitting below the intrinsic value? For Cardinal Health, we've compiled three additional elements you should explore:

  1. Risks: Take risks, for example - Cardinal Health has 3 warning signs we think you should be aware of.
  2. Future Earnings: How does CAH's growth rate compare to its peers and the wider market? Dig deeper into the analyst consensus number for the upcoming years by interacting with our free analyst growth expectation chart.
  3. Other Solid Businesses: Low debt, high returns on equity and good past performance are fundamental to a strong business. Why not explore our interactive list of stocks with solid business fundamentals to see if there are other companies you may not have considered!

PS. The Simply Wall St app conducts a discounted cash flow valuation for every stock on the NYSE every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks just search here.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Cardinal Health is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.