Stock Analysis

# Is There An Opportunity With NorthWestern Corporation's (NASDAQ:NWE) 24% Undervaluation?

Does the October share price for NorthWestern Corporation (NASDAQ:NWE) reflect what it's really worth? Today, we will estimate the stock's intrinsic value by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. We will take advantage of the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model for this purpose. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for NorthWestern

### Step by step through the calculation

As NorthWestern operates in the integrated utilities sector, we need to calculate the intrinsic value slightly differently. Instead of using free cash flows, which are hard to estimate and often not reported by analysts in this industry, dividends per share (DPS) payments are used. This often underestimates the value of a stock, but it can still be good as a comparison to competitors. We use the Gordon Growth Model, which assumes dividend will grow into perpetuity at a rate that can be sustained. The dividend is expected to grow at an annual growth rate equal to the 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield of 2.0%. We then discount this figure to today's value at a cost of equity of 5.5%. Compared to the current share price of US\$56.9, the company appears a touch undervalued at a 24% 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.

Value Per Share = Expected Dividend Per Share / (Discount Rate - Perpetual Growth Rate)

= US\$2.6 / (5.5% – 2.0%)

= US\$74.6

### 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 NorthWestern 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 5.5%, 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.

### Next Steps:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it shouldn't be the only metric you look at when researching a company. It's not possible to obtain a foolproof valuation with a DCF model. 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. What is the reason for the share price sitting below the intrinsic value? For NorthWestern, we've compiled three essential factors you should assess:

1. Risks: Be aware that NorthWestern is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those can't be ignored...
2. Future Earnings: How does NWE'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. 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.

### Valuation is complex, but we're here to simplify it.

Discover if NorthWestern Energy Group might be undervalued or overvalued with our detailed analysis, featuring fair value estimates, potential risks, dividends, insider trades, and its financial condition.

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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.

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