Is Cogent Communications Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:CCOI) Trading At A 44% Discount?

Published
June 28, 2022
NasdaqGS:CCOI
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Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Cogent Communications Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:CCOI) by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. Our analysis will employ the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

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 Cogent Communications Holdings

What's the estimated valuation?

We use what is known as a 2-stage model, which simply means we have two different periods of growth rates for the company's cash flows. Generally the first stage is higher growth, and the second stage is a lower growth phase. 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, 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

2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$99.8m US$112.1m US$111.9m US$144.6m US$164.7m US$179.4m US$191.6m US$201.8m US$210.6m US$218.1m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x8 Analyst x8 Analyst x2 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ 8.92% Est @ 6.82% Est @ 5.35% Est @ 4.32% Est @ 3.6%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 5.3% US$94.8 US$101 US$95.8 US$118 US$127 US$131 US$133 US$133 US$132 US$130

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$1.2b

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 1.9%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 5.3%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$218m× (1 + 1.9%) ÷ (5.3%– 1.9%) = US$6.6b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$6.6b÷ ( 1 + 5.3%)10= US$3.9b

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$5.1b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$61.7, the company appears quite undervalued at a 44% discount to where the stock price trades currently. Remember though, that this is just an approximate valuation, and like any complex formula - garbage in, garbage out.

dcf
NasdaqGS:CCOI Discounted Cash Flow June 28th 2022

Important assumptions

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 Cogent Communications Holdings 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 5.3%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.800. 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.

Moving On:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it is only one of many factors that you need to assess for a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. 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 Cogent Communications Holdings, we've put together three relevant elements you should further examine:

  1. Risks: For example, we've discovered 4 warning signs for Cogent Communications Holdings (3 can't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
  2. Future Earnings: How does CCOI'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.

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