Estimating The Intrinsic Value Of AutoZone, Inc. (NYSE:AZO)

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 10, 2021
NYSE:AZO
Source: Shutterstock

Does the October share price for AutoZone, Inc. (NYSE:AZO) reflect what it's really worth? Today, we will estimate the stock's intrinsic value by taking the forecast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today's value. We will use the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model on this occasion. Believe it or not, it's not too difficult to follow, as you'll see from our example!

Companies can be valued in a lot of ways, so we would point out that a DCF is not perfect for every situation. 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.

See our latest analysis for AutoZone

Step by step through the calculation

We're 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 a stable growth rate. 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.

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

2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$1.70b US$2.01b US$2.22b US$2.09b US$2.22b US$2.26b US$2.31b US$2.36b US$2.41b US$2.45b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x7 Analyst x5 Analyst x2 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ 2.15% Est @ 2.1% Est @ 2.06% Est @ 2.03% Est @ 2.01%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.9% US$1.6k US$1.7k US$1.8k US$1.5k US$1.5k US$1.4k US$1.4k US$1.3k US$1.2k US$1.1k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$15b

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. 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 7.9%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$2.5b× (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (7.9%– 2.0%) = US$42b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$42b÷ ( 1 + 7.9%)10= US$20b

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$34b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$1.7k, the company appears around fair value at the time of writing. 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.

dcf
NYSE:AZO Discounted Cash Flow October 11th 2021

The assumptions

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 AutoZone 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 7.9%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.351. 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.

Moving On:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it shouldn't be the only metric you look at when researching a company. It's not possible to obtain a foolproof valuation with a DCF model. 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 example, changes in the company's cost of equity or the risk free rate can significantly impact the valuation. For AutoZone, there are three important aspects you should further examine:

  1. Risks: For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for AutoZone (1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for AZO's future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.
  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. 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.

Discounted cash flow calculation for every stock

Simply Wall St does a detailed discounted cash flow calculation every 6 hours for every stock on the market, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any company just search here. It’s FREE.

Make Confident Investment Decisions

Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.