Today we’ll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CF) as an investment opportunity by estimating the company’s future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. I will use the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!
Companies can be valued in a lot of ways, so we would point out that a DCF is not perfect for every situation. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis 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. 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 are 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
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||US$1.0k||US$1.1k||US$1.1k||US$1.0k||US$996||US$981||US$979||US$986||US$998||US$1.0k|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x8||Analyst x9||Analyst x3||Analyst x1||Est @ -3.29%||Est @ -1.48%||Est @ -0.22%||Est @ 0.67%||Est @ 1.29%||Est @ 1.72%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 9.77%||US$922||US$947||US$826||US$709||US$625||US$561||US$510||US$468||US$432||US$400|
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF)= $6.40b
“Est” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St
After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the intial 10-year period, we need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all future cash flows beyond the first stage. The Gordon Growth formula is used to calculate Terminal Value at a future annual growth rate equal to the 10-year government bond rate of 2.7%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today’s value at a cost of equity of 9.8%.
Terminal Value (TV) = FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$1.0b × (1 + 2.7%) ÷ (9.8% – 2.7%) = US$15b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV) = TV / (1 + r)10 = $US$15b ÷ ( 1 + 9.8%)10 = $5.84b
The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is $12.24b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. This results in an intrinsic value estimate of $55.03. Compared to the current share price of $44.57, the company appears about fair value at a 19% discount to what it is available for right now. Remember though, that this is just an approximate valuation, and like any complex formula – garbage in, garbage out.
The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the cash flows. If you don’t agree with these result, have a go at the calculation yourself and play with the 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 CF Industries Holdings 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 9.8%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.181. 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.
Whilst important, DCF calculation shouldn’t be the only metric you look at when researching 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. For CF Industries Holdings, I’ve put together three further aspects you should further research:
- Financial Health: Does CF 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 CF’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: Are there other high quality stocks you could be holding instead of CF? 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 US stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.