Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of QUALCOMM Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM) as an investment opportunity by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. This will be done using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Believe it or not, it's not too difficult to follow, as you'll see from our example!
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. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.
Step by step through the calculation
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. To begin with, we have to get estimates of the next ten years of cash flows. 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 need to discount the sum of these future cash flows to arrive at a present value estimate:
10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||US$11.6b||US$14.6b||US$14.5b||US$14.6b||US$14.7b||US$14.8b||US$15.0b||US$15.3b||US$15.5b||US$15.8b|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x8||Analyst x8||Analyst x6||Est @ 0.21%||Est @ 0.72%||Est @ 1.08%||Est @ 1.33%||Est @ 1.51%||Est @ 1.63%||Est @ 1.72%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 6.9%||US$10.8k||US$12.8k||US$11.9k||US$11.2k||US$10.5k||US$10.0k||US$9.4k||US$9.0k||US$8.5k||US$8.1k|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$102b
The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business's cash flow after the first stage. 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 (1.9%) 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 6.9%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$16b× (1 + 1.9%) ÷ (6.9%– 1.9%) = US$325b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$325b÷ ( 1 + 6.9%)10= US$167b
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$269b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$173, the company appears a touch undervalued at a 28% 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.
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 QUALCOMM 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 6.9%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.168. 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. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. 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. Why is the intrinsic value higher than the current share price? For QUALCOMM, there are three important elements you should further examine:
- Risks: To that end, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with QUALCOMM (including 1 which can't be ignored) .
- Future Earnings: How does QCOM'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 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. 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.