Two important questions to ask before you buy Cognex Corporation (NASDAQ:CGNX) is, how it makes money and how it spends its cash. This difference directly flows down to how much the stock is worth. Operating in the electronic equipment and instruments industry, Cognex is currently valued at US$9.44b. Today we will examine Cognex’s ability to generate cash flows, as well as the level of capital expenditure it is expected to incur over the next couple of years, which will result in how much money goes to you.
What is free cash flow?
Cognex generates cash through its day-to-day business, which needs to be reinvested into the company in order for it to continue operating. What remains after this expenditure, is known as its free cash flow, or FCF, for short.
The two ways to assess whether Cognex’s FCF is sufficient, is to compare the FCF yield to the market index yield, as well as determine whether the top-line operating cash flows will continue to grow.
Free Cash Flow = Operating Cash Flows – Net Capital Expenditure
Free Cash Flow Yield = Free Cash Flow / Enterprise Value
where Enterprise Value = Market Capitalisation + Net Debt
Cognex’s yield of 1.26% indicates its sub-standard capacity to generate cash, compared to the stock market index as a whole, accounting for the size differential. This means investors are taking on more concentrated risk on Cognex but are not being adequately rewarded for doing so.
Is Cognex’s yield sustainable?Does Cognex’s future look brighter in terms of its ability to generate higher operating cash flows? This can be estimated by examining the trend of the company’s operating cash flow moving forward. In the next couple of years, a doubling in growth of operating cash flows is extremely uplifting, especially if capital expenditure grows at a lower rate. Below is a table of Cognex’s operating cash flow in the past year, as well as the anticipated level going forward.
|Current||+1 year||+2 year||+3 year|
|Operating Cash Flow (OCF)||US$206.3m||US$279.9m||US$332.0m||US$426.3m|
|OCF Growth Year-On-Year||35.7%||18.6%||28.4%|
|OCF Growth From Current Year||60.9%||107%|
Low free cash flow yield means you are not currently well-compensated for the risk you’re taking on by holding onto Cognex relative to a well-diversified market index. However, the high growth in operating cash flow may change the tides in the future. Keep in mind that cash is only one aspect of investment analysis and there are other important fundamentals to assess. I suggest you continue to research Cognex to get a more holistic view of the company by looking at:
- Valuation: What is CGNX worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether CGNX is currently mispriced by the market.
- Management Team: An experienced management team on the helm increases our confidence in the business – take a look at who sits on Cognex’s board and the CEO’s back ground.
- Other High-Performing Stocks: If you believe you should cushion your portfolio with something less risky, scroll through our free list of these great stocks here.
To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.
The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.