- United States
Are Investors Undervaluing Ashland Inc. (NYSE:ASH) By 35%?
- Using the 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity, Ashland fair value estimate is US$147
- Ashland's US$95.35 share price signals that it might be 35% undervalued
- The US$127 analyst price target for ASH is 13% less than our estimate of fair value
In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Ashland Inc. (NYSE:ASH) by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to today's value. The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model is the tool we will apply to do this. Before you think you won't be able to understand it, just read on! It's actually much less complex than you'd imagine.
Remember though, that there are many ways to estimate a company's value, and a DCF is just one method. For those who are keen learners of equity analysis, the Simply Wall St analysis model here may be something of interest to you.
View our latest analysis for Ashland
We use what is known as a 2-stage model, which simply means we have two different periods of growth rates for the company's cash flows. Generally the first stage is higher growth, and the second stage is a lower growth phase. To start off with, we need to estimate the next ten years of cash flows. Where possible we use analyst estimates, but when these aren't available we extrapolate the previous free cash flow (FCF) from the last estimate or reported value. We assume companies with shrinking free cash flow will slow their rate of shrinkage, and that companies with growing free cash flow will see their growth rate slow, over this period. We do this to reflect that growth tends to slow more in the early years than it does in later years.
Generally we assume that a dollar today is more valuable than a dollar in the future, so we need to discount the sum of these future cash flows to arrive at a present value estimate:
10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||US$304.7m||US$403.0m||US$456.0m||US$495.1m||US$527.8m||US$555.6m||US$579.5m||US$600.5m||US$619.5m||US$637.1m|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x6||Analyst x5||Analyst x3||Est @ 8.57%||Est @ 6.62%||Est @ 5.25%||Est @ 4.30%||Est @ 3.63%||Est @ 3.16%||Est @ 2.83%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.3%||US$281||US$343||US$359||US$360||US$354||US$344||US$331||US$317||US$302||US$286|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$3.3b
We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after this ten year period. The Gordon Growth formula is used to calculate Terminal Value at a future annual growth rate equal to the 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield of 2.1%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 8.3%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2032 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$637m× (1 + 2.1%) ÷ (8.3%– 2.1%) = US$10b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$10b÷ ( 1 + 8.3%)10= US$4.7b
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$8.0b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$95.4, the company appears quite good value at a 35% 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.
The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the cash flows. Part of investing is coming up with your own evaluation of a company's future performance, so try the calculation yourself and check your own assumptions. 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 Ashland 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 8.3%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.052. 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 Ashland
- Earnings growth over the past year exceeded the industry.
- Debt is well covered by earnings.
- Earnings growth over the past year is below its 5-year average.
- Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the Chemicals market.
- Annual earnings are forecast to grow faster than the American market.
- Trading below our estimate of fair value by more than 20%.
- Debt is not well covered by operating cash flow.
- Paying a dividend but company has no free cash flows.
- Annual revenue is forecast to grow slower than the American market.
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. Rather it should be seen as a guide to "what assumptions need to be true for this stock to be under/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 Ashland, there are three relevant factors you should explore:
- Financial Health: Does ASH have a healthy balance sheet? Take a look at our free balance sheet analysis with six simple checks on key factors like leverage and risk.
- Future Earnings: How does ASH'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.
- Other High Quality Alternatives: Do you like a good all-rounder? Explore our interactive list of high quality stocks to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!
PS. Simply Wall St updates its DCF calculation for every American stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.
Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.
Find out whether Ashland 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.View the Free Analysis
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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.
Ashland Inc. provides additives and specialty ingredients worldwide.
Good value with proven track record.