Stock Analysis

An Intrinsic Calculation For Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Suggests It's 34% Undervalued

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NasdaqGS:GOOGL
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Key Insights

  • Alphabet's estimated fair value is US$211 based on 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity
  • Alphabet's US$139 share price signals that it might be 34% undervalued
  • The US$164 analyst price target for GOOGL is 22% less than our estimate of fair value

Does the March share price for Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) 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. Our analysis will employ the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

We generally believe that a company's value is the present value of all of the cash it will generate in the future. However, a DCF is just one valuation metric among many, and it is not without flaws. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.

View our latest analysis for Alphabet

The 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.

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) forecast

2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032 2033
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$78.7b US$90.1b US$105.1b US$122.9b US$134.5b US$143.1b US$150.6b US$157.1b US$162.9b US$168.3b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x20 Analyst x20 Analyst x11 Analyst x4 Analyst x3 Est @ 6.45% Est @ 5.20% Est @ 4.33% Est @ 3.72% Est @ 3.29%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.2% US$73.4k US$78.4k US$85.4k US$93.1k US$95.0k US$94.4k US$92.6k US$90.1k US$87.2k US$84.1k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$874b

The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business's cash flow after the first stage. 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 2.3%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.2%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2033 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$168b× (1 + 2.3%) ÷ (7.2%– 2.3%) = US$3.5t

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$3.5t÷ ( 1 + 7.2%)10= US$1.8t

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$2.6t. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$139, the company appears quite undervalued at a 34% 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.

dcf
NasdaqGS:GOOGL Discounted Cash Flow March 13th 2024

Important Assumptions

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. 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 Alphabet 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 7.2%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.065. 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 Alphabet

Strength
  • Earnings growth over the past year exceeded its 5-year average.
  • Debt is not viewed as a risk.
Weakness
  • Earnings growth over the past year underperformed the Interactive Media and Services industry.
Opportunity
  • Annual revenue is forecast to grow faster than the American market.
  • Good value based on P/E ratio and estimated fair value.
Threat
  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow slower than the American market.

Moving On:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize 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 Alphabet, we've compiled three important items you should further research:

  1. Financial Health: Does GOOGL 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.
  2. Future Earnings: How does GOOGL'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.
  3. 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. The Simply Wall St app conducts a discounted cash flow valuation for every stock on the NASDAQGS 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 Alphabet 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.