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Calculating The Fair Value Of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)
- Microsoft's estimated fair value is US$260 based on 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity
- Current share price of US$249 suggests Microsoft is potentially trading close to its fair value
- The US$292 analyst price target for MSFT is 12% more than our estimate of fair value
Does the March share price for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) reflect what it's really worth? Today, we will estimate the stock's intrinsic value by taking the forecast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today's value. Our analysis will employ the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Before you think you won't be able to understand it, just read on! It's actually much less complex than you'd imagine.
We would caution that there are many ways of valuing a company and, like the DCF, each technique has advantages and disadvantages in certain scenarios. If you want to learn more about discounted cash flow, the rationale behind this calculation can be read in detail in the Simply Wall St analysis model.
View our latest analysis for Microsoft
We are going to use a two-stage DCF model, which, as the name states, takes into account two stages of growth. The first stage is generally a higher growth period which levels off heading towards the terminal value, captured in the second 'steady growth' period. In the first stage we need to estimate the cash flows to the business over the next ten years. Where possible we use analyst estimates, but when these aren't available we extrapolate the previous free cash flow (FCF) from the last estimate or reported value. We assume companies with shrinking free cash flow will slow their rate of shrinkage, and that companies with growing free cash flow will see their growth rate slow, over this period. We do this to reflect that growth tends to slow more in the early years than it does in later years.
Generally we assume that a dollar today is more valuable than a dollar in the future, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:
10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||US$61.6b||US$74.7b||US$89.0b||US$101.7b||US$115.6b||US$125.9b||US$134.5b||US$141.7b||US$148.0b||US$153.5b|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x23||Analyst x23||Analyst x13||Analyst x6||Analyst x4||Est @ 8.87%||Est @ 6.83%||Est @ 5.40%||Est @ 4.40%||Est @ 3.70%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.0%||US$57.0k||US$64.0k||US$70.5k||US$74.6k||US$78.5k||US$79.1k||US$78.2k||US$76.3k||US$73.8k||US$70.8k|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$723b
We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after this ten year period. 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 2.1%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 8.0%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2032 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$153b× (1 + 2.1%) ÷ (8.0%– 2.1%) = US$2.6t
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$2.6t÷ ( 1 + 8.0%)10= US$1.2t
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$1.9t. 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$249, the company appears about fair value at a 4.2% discount to where the stock price trades currently. Valuations are imprecise instruments though, rather like a telescope - move a few degrees and end up in a different galaxy. Do keep this in mind.
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. 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 Microsoft 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 8.0%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.006. 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.
SWOT Analysis for Microsoft
- Debt is not viewed as a risk.
- Dividends are covered by earnings and cash flows.
- Earnings declined over the past year.
- Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the Software market.
- Annual revenue is forecast to grow faster than the American market.
- Good value based on P/E ratio and estimated fair value.
- Annual earnings are forecast to grow slower than the American market.
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. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. 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 instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. For Microsoft, there are three essential factors you should look at:
- Risks: We feel that you should assess the 1 warning sign for Microsoft we've flagged before making an investment in the company.
- Future Earnings: How does MSFT'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 American stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.
Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.
Find out whether Microsoft is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.View the Free Analysis
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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.
Microsoft Corporation develops, licenses, and supports software, services, devices, and solutions worldwide.
Flawless balance sheet average dividend payer.