Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of Weibo Corporation (NASDAQ:WB) as an investment opportunity by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present 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 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. If you want to learn more about discounted cash flow, the rationale behind this calculation can be read in detail in the Simply Wall St analysis model.
Step by step through the calculation
We use what is known as a 2-stage model, which simply means we have two different periods of growth rates for the company's cash flows. Generally the first stage is higher growth, and the second stage is a lower growth phase. 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.
A DCF is all about the idea that a dollar in the future is less valuable than a dollar today, 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$721.6m||US$809.4m||US$814.0m||US$602.3m||US$610.7m||US$565.6m||US$539.7m||US$525.6m||US$519.1m||US$517.6m|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x9||Analyst x9||Analyst x2||Analyst x1||Analyst x1||Est @ -7.38%||Est @ -4.58%||Est @ -2.62%||Est @ -1.24%||Est @ -0.28%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.1%||US$667||US$692||US$644||US$441||US$413||US$354||US$313||US$281||US$257||US$237|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$4.3b
We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after this ten year period. 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 (2.0%) 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 8.1%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$518m× (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (8.1%– 2.0%) = US$8.6b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$8.6b÷ ( 1 + 8.1%)10= US$3.9b
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$8.2b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$34.6, the company appears about fair value at a 1.2% 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.
The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the 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 Weibo 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 8.1%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.239. 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, the DCF calculation ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. Rather it should be seen as a guide to "what assumptions need to be true for this stock to be under/overvalued?" For instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. For Weibo, we've compiled three pertinent factors you should assess:
- Risks: Case in point, we've spotted 4 warning signs for Weibo you should be aware of.
- Future Earnings: How does WB'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 NASDAQGS every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks just search here.
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.