In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Dollar General Corporation (NYSE:DG) by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to today’s value. We will use the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model on this occasion. Before you think you won’t be able to understand it, just read on! It’s actually much less complex than you’d imagine.
We would caution that there are many ways of valuing a company and, like the DCF, each technique has advantages and disadvantages in certain scenarios. If you still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at the Simply Wall St analysis 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. 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$1.75b||US$1.74b||US$1.96b||US$2.16b||US$2.36b||US$2.51b||US$2.64b||US$2.75b||US$2.85b||US$2.95b|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x10||Analyst x8||Analyst x4||Analyst x3||Analyst x2||Est @ 6.35%||Est @ 5.11%||Est @ 4.24%||Est @ 3.64%||Est @ 3.21%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.1%||US$1.6k||US$1.5k||US$1.6k||US$1.6k||US$1.7k||US$1.7k||US$1.6k||US$1.6k||US$1.5k||US$1.5k|
(“Est” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$16b
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 2.2%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today’s value at a cost of equity of 7.1%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$2.9b× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (7.1%– 2.2%) = US$62b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$62b÷ ( 1 + 7.1%)10= US$31b
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$47b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$191, 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.
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 Dollar General 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 7.1%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.806. 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.
Although the valuation of a company is important, 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. 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 Dollar General, there are three fundamental items you should look at:
- Risks: Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We’ve identified 2 warning signs with Dollar General , and understanding these should be part of your investment process.
- Future Earnings: How does DG’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. Simply Wall St updates its DCF calculation for every US stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
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