In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Nucor Corporation (NYSE:NUE) by taking the forecast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today's 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. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.
What's the estimated valuation?
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. 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 discount the value of these future cash flows to their estimated value in today's dollars:
10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||US$3.22b||US$2.55b||US$2.18b||US$1.97b||US$1.85b||US$1.78b||US$1.75b||US$1.73b||US$1.73b||US$1.74b|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x5||Analyst x3||Est @ -14.5%||Est @ -9.55%||Est @ -6.09%||Est @ -3.67%||Est @ -1.97%||Est @ -0.78%||Est @ 0.05%||Est @ 0.63%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.3%||US$3.0k||US$2.2k||US$1.8k||US$1.5k||US$1.3k||US$1.2k||US$1.1k||US$987||US$920||US$863|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$15b
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 2.0%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.3%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$1.7b× (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (7.3%– 2.0%) = US$34b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$34b÷ ( 1 + 7.3%)10= US$17b
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$31b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$123, 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.
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. 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 Nucor 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 7.3%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.122. 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.
Although the valuation of a company is important, it is only one of many factors that you need to assess for a company. It's not possible to obtain a foolproof valuation with a DCF model. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. 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 Nucor, we've compiled three fundamental items you should assess:
- Risks: Case in point, we've spotted 4 warning signs for Nucor you should be aware of, and 1 of them is a bit unpleasant.
- Future Earnings: How does NUE'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. 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.
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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.
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