Stock Analysis

Is There An Opportunity With Sonoco Products Company's (NYSE:SON) 24% Undervaluation?

NYSE:SON
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Key Insights

  • Using the 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity, Sonoco Products fair value estimate is US$78.39
  • Sonoco Products' US$59.72 share price signals that it might be 24% undervalued
  • Our fair value estimate is 21% higher than Sonoco Products' analyst price target of US$64.63

Does the March share price for Sonoco Products Company (NYSE:SON) reflect what it's really worth? Today, we will estimate the stock's intrinsic value by projecting its future cash flows and then discounting them 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.

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. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.

See our latest analysis for Sonoco Products

The Calculation

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.

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

2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$595.5m US$538.2m US$506.6m US$488.9m US$480.0m US$476.9m US$477.7m US$481.2m US$486.6m US$493.5m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x3 Analyst x1 Est @ -5.87% Est @ -3.49% Est @ -1.82% Est @ -0.65% Est @ 0.16% Est @ 0.74% Est @ 1.14% Est @ 1.42%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.7% US$553 US$464 US$405 US$363 US$331 US$305 US$284 US$265 US$249 US$234

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$3.5b

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 7.7%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2032 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$494m× (1 + 2.1%) ÷ (7.7%– 2.1%) = US$8.9b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$8.9b÷ ( 1 + 7.7%)10= US$4.2b

The total value is the sum of cash flows for the next ten years plus the discounted terminal value, which results in the Total Equity Value, which in this case is US$7.7b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$59.7, the company appears a touch undervalued at a 24% discount to where the stock price trades currently. The assumptions in any calculation have a big impact on the valuation, so it is better to view this as a rough estimate, not precise down to the last cent.

dcf
NYSE:SON Discounted Cash Flow March 30th 2023

The 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 Sonoco Products 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 7.7%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.953. 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 Sonoco Products

Strength
  • Debt is well covered by earnings.
Weakness
  • Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the Packaging market.
Opportunity
  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow for the next 3 years.
  • Good value based on P/E ratio and estimated fair value.
  • Significant insider buying over the past 3 months.
Threat
  • Debt is not well covered by operating cash flow.
  • Dividends are not covered by cash flow.
  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow slower than the American market.

Looking Ahead:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and 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. Why is the intrinsic value higher than the current share price? For Sonoco Products, we've compiled three additional aspects you should look at:

  1. Risks: For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Sonoco Products (1 doesn't sit too well with us!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for SON's future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.
  3. 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.

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

Find out whether Sonoco Products 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.