Calculating The Intrinsic Value Of Coles Group Limited (ASX:COL)

Simply Wall St

Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of Coles Group Limited (ASX:COL) as an investment opportunity by projecting its future cash flows and then discounting them to today's value. This is done using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Don't get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.

Companies can be valued in a lot of ways, so we would point out that a DCF is not perfect for every situation. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.

See our latest analysis for Coles Group

Step by step through the calculation

We're using the 2-stage growth model, which simply means we take in account two stages of company's growth. In the initial period the company may have a higher growth rate and the second stage is usually assumed to have a stable growth rate. To start off with, we need to estimate the next ten years of cash flows. 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 need to discount the sum of these future cash flows to arrive at a present value estimate:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
Levered FCF (A$, Millions) AU$1.03b AU$870.2m AU$1.03b AU$954.0m AU$1.04b AU$1.07b AU$1.10b AU$1.12b AU$1.14b AU$1.16b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x5 Analyst x5 Analyst x4 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ 3.34% Est @ 2.67% Est @ 2.19% Est @ 1.86% Est @ 1.62%
Present Value (A$, Millions) Discounted @ 5.4% AU$976 AU$783 AU$880 AU$772 AU$795 AU$779 AU$759 AU$736 AU$711 AU$685

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = AU$7.9b

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 10-year government bond rate (1.1%) 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 5.4%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = AU$1.2b× (1 + 1.1%) ÷ 5.4%– 1.1%) = AU$27b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= AU$27b÷ ( 1 + 5.4%)10= AU$16b

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is AU$24b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of AU$16.6, the company appears about fair value at a 7.2% 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.

ASX:COL Intrinsic value March 27th 2020

The 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. Part of investing is coming up with your own evaluation of a company's future performance, so try the calculation yourself and check your own 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 Coles 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 5.4%, 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. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. Rather it should be seen as a guide to "what assumptions need to be true for this stock to be under/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 Coles Group, We've compiled three additional aspects you should further examine:

  1. Risks: For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Coles Group that you should be aware of before investing here.
  2. Future Earnings: How does COL'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 AU stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.