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A Look At The Intrinsic Value Of Stantec Inc. (TSE:STN)

In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Stantec Inc. (TSE:STN) by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. One way to achieve this is by employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Don't get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.

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.

View our latest analysis for Stantec

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.

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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

2023

2024

2025

2026

2027

2028

2029

2030

2031

2032

Levered FCF (CA$, Millions)

CA$361.7m

CA$418.2m

CA$459.2m

CA$493.1m

CA$521.0m

CA$544.3m

CA$564.1m

CA$581.4m

CA$596.8m

CA$610.8m

Growth Rate Estimate Source

Analyst x5

Analyst x5

Est @ 9.81%

Est @ 7.38%

Est @ 5.67%

Est @ 4.48%

Est @ 3.64%

Est @ 3.06%

Est @ 2.65%

Est @ 2.36%

Present Value (CA$, Millions) Discounted @ 8.4%

CA$334

CA$356

CA$360

CA$357

CA$348

CA$335

CA$320

CA$304

CA$288

CA$272

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = CA$3.3b

The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business's cash flow after 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 8.4%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2032 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = CA$611m× (1 + 1.7%) ÷ (8.4%– 1.7%) = CA$9.2b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= CA$9.2b÷ ( 1 + 8.4%)10= CA$4.1b

The total value is the sum of cash flows for the next ten years plus the discounted terminal value, which results in the Total Equity Value, which in this case is CA$7.4b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of CA$66.4, the company appears about fair value at a 0.5% 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.

dcf
dcf

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 Stantec 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 8.4%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.120. 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 Stantec

Strength

  • Debt is well covered by earnings.

  • Dividends are covered by earnings and cash flows.

Weakness

  • Earnings declined over the past year.

  • Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the Construction market.

Opportunity

  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow faster than the Canadian market.

  • Current share price is below our estimate of fair value.

  • Significant insider buying over the past 3 months.

Threat

  • Debt is not well covered by operating cash flow.

  • Revenue is forecast to grow slower than 20% per year.

Moving On:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it shouldn't be the only metric you look at when researching a company. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. For example, changes in the company's cost of equity or the risk free rate can significantly impact the valuation. For Stantec, we've put together three essential elements you should further research:

  1. Risks: You should be aware of the 1 warning sign for Stantec we've uncovered before considering an investment in the company.

  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for STN's future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.

  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 TSX every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks just search here.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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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