Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Mullen Group Ltd. (TSE:MTL) by projecting its future cash flows and then discounting them to today's value. The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model is the tool we will apply to do this. Believe it or not, it's not too difficult to follow, as you'll see from our example!
Remember though, that there are many ways to estimate a company's value, and a DCF is just one method. If you still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at the Simply Wall St analysis model.
Step by step through the calculation
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.
A DCF is all about the idea that a dollar in the future is less valuable than a dollar today, 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
Levered FCF (CA$, Millions)
Growth Rate Estimate Source
Est @ -13.18%
Est @ -8.73%
Est @ -5.61%
Est @ -3.43%
Est @ -1.9%
Est @ -0.83%
Est @ -0.09%
Est @ 0.44%
Present Value (CA$, Millions) Discounted @ 8.9%
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = CA$532m
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 1.7%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 8.9%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = CA$75m× (1 + 1.7%) ÷ (8.9%– 1.7%) = CA$1.0b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= CA$1.0b÷ ( 1 + 8.9%)10= CA$447m
The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is CA$979m. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of CA$9.0, the company appears about fair value at a 10% 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.
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. 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 Mullen Group 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 8.9%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.206. 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. Instead the best use for a DCF model is to test certain assumptions and theories to see if they would lead to the company being undervalued or overvalued. 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. For Mullen Group, we've put together three important elements you should assess:
Risks: For example, we've discovered 4 warning signs for Mullen Group (1 is significant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for MTL's future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.
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. The Simply Wall St app conducts a discounted cash flow valuation for every stock on the TSX every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks just search here.
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.
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