In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHTR) by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to today's value. One way to achieve this is by employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. There's really not all that much to it, even though it might appear quite complex.
Remember though, that there are many ways to estimate a company's value, and a DCF is just one method. If you still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at 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. 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.
A DCF is all about the idea that a dollar in the future is less valuable than a dollar today, 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) forecast
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||US$7.94b||US$8.65b||US$9.59b||US$11.4b||US$12.4b||US$13.3b||US$14.0b||US$14.7b||US$15.2b||US$15.7b|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x10||Analyst x5||Analyst x4||Analyst x3||Est @ 9.05%||Est @ 7%||Est @ 5.57%||Est @ 4.56%||Est @ 3.86%||Est @ 3.37%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.5%||US$7.3k||US$7.4k||US$7.5k||US$8.2k||US$8.3k||US$8.1k||US$7.9k||US$7.6k||US$7.3k||US$7.0k|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$77b
After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the initial 10-year period, we need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all future cash flows beyond the first stage. 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 (2.2%) 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 8.5%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$16b× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (8.5%– 2.2%) = US$257b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$257b÷ ( 1 + 8.5%)10= US$114b
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$190b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$655, the company appears a touch undervalued at a 22% 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.
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 Charter Communications 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 8.5%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.043. 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.
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. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. Instead the best use for a DCF model is to test certain assumptions and theories to see if they would lead to the company being undervalued or overvalued. For instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. Can we work out why the company is trading at a discount to intrinsic value? For Charter Communications, there are three essential items you should explore:
- Risks: Take risks, for example - Charter Communications has 2 warning signs (and 1 which makes us a bit uncomfortable) we think you should know about.
- Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for CHTR's future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.
- 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!
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.
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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. 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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