Stock Analysis

# Calculating The Fair Value Of NiSource Inc. (NYSE:NI)

### Key Insights

• NiSource's estimated fair value is US\$23.14 based on Dividend Discount Model
• With US\$26.85 share price, NiSource appears to be trading close to its estimated fair value
• The US\$31.33 analyst price target for NI is 35% more than our estimate of fair value

Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of NiSource Inc. (NYSE:NI) as an investment opportunity by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. We will take advantage of the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model for this purpose. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

We generally believe that a company's value is the present value of all of the cash it will generate in the future. However, a DCF is just one valuation metric among many, and it is not without flaws. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.

Check out our latest analysis for NiSource

## Is NiSource Fairly Valued?

We have to calculate the value of NiSource slightly differently to other stocks because it is a integrated utilities company. In this approach dividends per share (DPS) are used, as free cash flow is difficult to estimate and often not reported by analysts. Unless a company pays out the majority of its FCF as a dividend, this method will typically underestimate the value of the stock. We use the Gordon Growth Model, which assumes dividend will grow into perpetuity at a rate that can be sustained. For a number of reasons a very conservative growth rate is used that cannot exceed that of a company's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In this case we used the 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield (2.1%). The expected dividend per share is then discounted to today's value at a cost of equity of 6.9%. Compared to the current share price of US\$26.9, the company appears around fair value at the time of writing. 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\$1.1 / (6.9% – 2.1%)

= US\$23.1

## Important Assumptions

Now the most important inputs to a discounted cash flow are the discount rate, and of course, the actual cash flows. If you don't agree with these result, have a go at the calculation yourself and play with the 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 NiSource 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 6.9%, 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.

### SWOT Analysis for NiSource

Strength
• Debt is well covered by earnings.
Weakness
• Earnings declined over the past year.
• Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the Integrated Utilities 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
• Debt is not well covered by operating cash flow.
• Paying a dividend but company has no free cash flows.
• Annual earnings are forecast to grow slower than the American market.

## Moving On:

Whilst important, the DCF calculation shouldn't be the only metric you look at when researching a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. Rather it should be seen as a guide to "what assumptions need to be true for this stock to be under/overvalued?" For example, changes in the company's cost of equity or the risk free rate can significantly impact the valuation. For NiSource, we've compiled three fundamental elements you should consider:

1. Risks: Take risks, for example - NiSource has 3 warning signs (and 1 which is significant) we think you should know about.
2. Future Earnings: How does NI'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 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.

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

Discover if NiSource 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.