Stock Analysis

    Calculating The Fair Value Of Advanced Emissions Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADES)

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    Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Advanced Emissions Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADES) by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model is the tool we will apply to do this. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

    We would caution that there are many ways of valuing a company and, like the DCF, each technique has advantages and disadvantages in certain scenarios. 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.

    See our latest analysis for Advanced Emissions Solutions

    The model

    We are going to use a two-stage DCF model, which, as the name states, takes into account two stages of growth. The first stage is generally a higher growth period which levels off heading towards the terminal value, captured in the second 'steady growth' period. In the first stage we need to estimate the cash flows to the business over the next ten years. Seeing as no analyst estimates of free cash flow are available to us, we have extrapolate the previous free cash flow (FCF) from the company's last 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.

    Generally we assume that a dollar today is more valuable than a dollar in the future, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:

    10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate

    2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
    Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$8.87m US$6.69m US$5.57m US$4.96m US$4.60m US$4.40m US$4.28m US$4.23m US$4.22m US$4.24m
    Growth Rate Estimate Source Est @ -35.99% Est @ -24.62% Est @ -16.66% Est @ -11.08% Est @ -7.18% Est @ -4.45% Est @ -2.54% Est @ -1.2% Est @ -0.27% Est @ 0.39%
    Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 6.0% US$8.4 US$5.9 US$4.7 US$3.9 US$3.4 US$3.1 US$2.8 US$2.7 US$2.5 US$2.4

    ("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
    Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$39m

    We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after this ten year period. 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 (1.9%) 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 6.0%.

    Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$4.2m× (1 + 1.9%) ÷ (6.0%– 1.9%) = US$105m

    Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$105m÷ ( 1 + 6.0%)10= US$59m

    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$98m. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$5.6, the company appears around fair value at the time of writing. Remember though, that this is just an approximate valuation, and like any complex formula - garbage in, garbage out.

    NasdaqGM:ADES Discounted Cash Flow March 10th 2022

    The assumptions

    We would point out that 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 Advanced Emissions Solutions 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 6.0%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.968. 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.

    Next Steps:

    Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. Rather it should be seen as a guide to "what assumptions need to be true for this stock to be under/overvalued?" For example, changes in the company's cost of equity or the risk free rate can significantly impact the valuation. For Advanced Emissions Solutions, we've compiled three fundamental aspects you should further examine:

    1. Risks: Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Advanced Emissions Solutions (of which 2 make us uncomfortable!) you should know about.
    2. 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!
    3. Other Top Analyst Picks: Interested to see what the analysts are thinking? Take a look at our interactive list of analysts' top stock picks to find out what they feel might have an attractive future outlook!

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

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