Stock Analysis

Are Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ:LGND) Investors Paying Above The Intrinsic Value?

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NasdaqGM:LGND
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In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ:LGND) 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. Models like these may appear beyond the comprehension of a lay person, but they're fairly easy to follow.

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 still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at the Simply Wall St analysis model.

Check out our latest analysis for Ligand Pharmaceuticals

Is Ligand Pharmaceuticals fairly valued?

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. 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, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate

2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$47.6m US$21.3m US$34.5m US$51.3m US$75.8m US$95.1m US$112.6m US$127.8m US$140.7m US$151.4m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ 25.42% Est @ 18.4% Est @ 13.5% Est @ 10.06% Est @ 7.65%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.7% US$44.2 US$18.4 US$27.7 US$38.2 US$52.4 US$61.0 US$67.1 US$70.7 US$72.3 US$72.3

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$524m

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 2.0%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.7%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$151m× (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (7.7%– 2.0%) = US$2.7b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$2.7b÷ ( 1 + 7.7%)10= US$1.3b

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$1.8b. 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$148, the company appears potentially overvalued at the time of writing. Remember though, that this is just an approximate valuation, and like any complex formula - garbage in, garbage out.

dcf
NasdaqGM:LGND Discounted Cash Flow March 4th 2021

Important assumptions

The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the cash flows. If you don't agree with these result, have a go at the calculation yourself and play with the 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 Ligand Pharmaceuticals 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 1.078. 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.

Looking Ahead:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it 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?" 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. What is the reason for the share price exceeding the intrinsic value? For Ligand Pharmaceuticals, we've compiled three important elements you should explore:

  1. Risks: We feel that you should assess the 3 warning signs for Ligand Pharmaceuticals (1 is concerning!) we've flagged before making an investment in the company.
  2. Future Earnings: How does LGND'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 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 NASDAQGM every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks just search here.

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