How far off is Clearway Energy, Inc. (NYSE:CWEN.A) from its intrinsic value? Using the most recent financial data, we'll take a look at whether the stock is fairly priced 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. Believe it or not, it's not too difficult to follow, as you'll see from our example!
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. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.
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.
A DCF is all about the idea that a dollar in the future is less valuable than a dollar today, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:
10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||US$521.1m||US$545.3m||US$564.6m||US$582.0m||US$598.2m||US$613.4m||US$628.2m||US$642.5m||US$656.8m||US$671.0m|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x1||Analyst x1||Est @ 3.54%||Est @ 3.09%||Est @ 2.77%||Est @ 2.55%||Est @ 2.4%||Est @ 2.29%||Est @ 2.22%||Est @ 2.16%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 6.5%||US$489||US$481||US$467||US$452||US$437||US$420||US$404||US$388||US$373||US$358|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$4.3b
We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after this ten year period. For a number of reasons a very conservative growth rate is used that cannot exceed that of a country's GDP growth. In this case we have used the 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield (2.0%) to estimate future growth. In the same way as with the 10-year 'growth' period, we discount future cash flows to today's value, using a cost of equity of 6.5%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$671m× (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (6.5%– 2.0%) = US$15b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$15b÷ ( 1 + 6.5%)10= US$8.2b
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$12b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$33.1, the company appears quite good value at a 47% 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.
Now 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 Clearway Energy 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 6.5%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.852. 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.
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 Clearway Energy, we've compiled three important factors you should consider:
- Risks: We feel that you should assess the 4 warning signs for Clearway Energy (2 are significant!) we've flagged before making an investment in the company.
- Future Earnings: How does CWEN.A'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 Solid Businesses: Low debt, high returns on equity and good past performance are fundamental to a strong business. Why not explore our interactive list of stocks with solid business fundamentals to see if there are other companies you may not have considered!
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.
When trading Clearway Energy or any other investment, use the platform considered by many to be the Professional's Gateway to the Worlds Market, Interactive Brokers. You get the lowest-cost* trading on stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds worldwide from a single integrated account.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.