An Intrinsic Calculation For Verastem, Inc. (NASDAQ:VSTM) Shows It’s 23.98% Undervalued

Today I will be providing a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of Verastem, Inc. (NASDAQ:VSTM) as an investment opportunity by estimating the company’s future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. I will be using the Discounted Cash Flows (DCF) model. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple! Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model. Please also note that this article was written in January 2019 so be sure check out the updated calculation by following the link below.

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Crunching the numbers

I’m 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 perpetual stable growth rate. In the first stage we need to estimate the cash flows to the business over the next five years. For this I used the consensus of the analysts covering the stock, as you can see below. I then discount the sum of these cash flows to arrive at a present value estimate.

5-year cash flow estimate

 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 Levered FCF (\$, Millions) \$-143.80 \$-94.88 \$-69.69 \$12.39 \$96.32 Source Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Present Value Discounted @ 12.96% \$-127.30 \$-74.36 \$-48.35 \$7.61 \$52.37

Present Value of 5-year Cash Flow (PVCF)= -US\$190.0m

After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the intial 5-year period we need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows beyond the first stage. For a number of reasons a very conservative growth rate is used that cannot exceed that of the GDP. In this case I have used the 10-year government bond rate (2.7%). In the same way as with the 5-year ‘growth’ period, we discount this to today’s value at a cost of equity of 13%.

Terminal Value (TV) = FCF2023 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US\$96m × (1 + 2.7%) ÷ (13% – 2.7%) = US\$967m

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV) = TV / (1 + r)5 = US\$967m ÷ ( 1 + 13%)5 = US\$526m

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the cash flows, which in this case is US\$336m. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. If the stock is an depositary receipt (represents a specified number of shares in a foreign corporation) then we use the equivalent number. This results in an intrinsic value of \$4.55. Relative to the current share price of \$3.46, the stock is about right, perhaps slightly undervalued at a 24% discount to what it is available for right now.

The assumptions

I’d like to point out that the most important inputs to a discounted cash flow are the discount rate and of course the actual cash flows. If you don’t agree with my result, have a go at the calculation yourself and play with the assumptions. Because we are looking at Verastem as potential shareholders, the cost of equity is used as the discount rate, rather than the cost of capital (or weighed average cost of capital, WACC) which accounts for debt. In this calculation I’ve used 13%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.407. This is derived from the Bottom-Up Beta method based on comparable companies, with an imposed limit between 0.8 and 2.0, which is a reasonable range for a stable business.

Next Steps:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it shouldn’t be the only metric you look at when researching a company. What is the reason for the share price to differ from the intrinsic value? For VSTM, I’ve compiled three pertinent aspects you should further examine:

1. Financial Health: Does VSTM 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 VSTM’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: Are there other high quality stocks you could be holding instead of VSTM? 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 for every stock on the NASDAQ every 6 hours. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks just search here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.