Stock Analysis

Estimating The Fair Value Of Paychex, Inc. (NASDAQ:PAYX)

NasdaqGS:PAYX
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Key Insights

  • Paychex's estimated fair value is US$114 based on 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity
  • Current share price of US$116 suggests Paychex is trading close to its fair value
  • Analyst price target for PAYX is US$122 which is 7.0% above our fair value estimate

Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of Paychex, Inc. (NASDAQ:PAYX) as an investment opportunity by taking the forecast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today's 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!

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 still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at the Simply Wall St analysis model.

View our latest analysis for Paychex

The Method

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. 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 discount the value of these future cash flows to their estimated value in today's dollars:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate

2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$1.97b US$1.71b US$2.07b US$2.23b US$2.40b US$2.53b US$2.64b US$2.73b US$2.82b US$2.89b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x2 Analyst x4 Analyst x2 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ 5.27% Est @ 4.28% Est @ 3.59% Est @ 3.11% Est @ 2.77%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.6% US$1.8k US$1.5k US$1.7k US$1.7k US$1.7k US$1.6k US$1.6k US$1.5k US$1.5k US$1.4k

("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 2.0%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.6%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2032 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$2.9b× (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (7.6%– 2.0%) = US$53b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$53b÷ ( 1 + 7.6%)10= US$25b

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$41b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$116, 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
NasdaqGS:PAYX Discounted Cash Flow January 4th 2023

The Assumptions

Now the most important inputs to a discounted cash flow are the discount rate, and of course, the actual cash flows. Part of investing is coming up with your own evaluation of a company's future performance, so try the calculation yourself and check your own 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 Paychex 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 7.6%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.008. 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 Paychex

Strength
  • Earnings growth over the past year exceeded its 5-year average.
  • Debt is not viewed as a risk.
  • Dividends are covered by earnings and cash flows.
Weakness
  • Earnings growth over the past year underperformed the IT industry.
  • Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the IT market.
Opportunity
  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow for the next 3 years.
  • Good value based on P/E ratio compared to estimated Fair P/E ratio.
Threat
  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow slower than the American market.

Moving On:

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. 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. 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. For Paychex, there are three important factors you should further research:

  1. Risks: Be aware that Paychex is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...
  2. Future Earnings: How does PAYX'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: 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 Paychex 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.

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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.