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Estimating The Fair Value Of National Grid plc (LON:NG.)

Key Insights

  • Using the Dividend Discount Model, National Grid fair value estimate is UK£10.43

  • National Grid's UK£10.50 share price indicates it is trading at similar levels as its fair value estimate

  • Our fair value estimate is 6.1% higher than National Grid's analyst price target of UK£11.07

How far off is National Grid plc (LON:NG.) from its intrinsic value? Using the most recent financial data, we'll take a look at whether the stock is fairly priced by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. One way to achieve this is by employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Before you think you won't be able to understand it, just read on! It's actually much less complex than you'd imagine.

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.

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Check out our latest analysis for National Grid

Is National Grid Fairly Valued?

As National Grid operates in the integrated utilities sector, we need to calculate the intrinsic value slightly differently. Instead of using free cash flows, which are hard to estimate and often not reported by analysts in this industry, dividends per share (DPS) payments are used. Unless a company pays out the majority of its FCF as a dividend, this method will typically underestimate the value of the stock. The 'Gordon Growth Model' is used, which simply assumes that dividend payments will continue to increase at a sustainable growth rate forever. The dividend is expected to grow at an annual growth rate equal to the 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield of 1.2%. We then discount this figure to today's value at a cost of equity of 6.7%. Compared to the current share price of UK£10.5, 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)

= UK£0.6 / (6.7% – 1.2%)

= UK£10.4

dcf
dcf

Important Assumptions

The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the 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 National Grid 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 6.7%, 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 National Grid

Strength

  • Earnings growth over the past year exceeded the industry.

  • Debt is well covered by earnings.

Weakness

  • 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 British market.

Next Steps:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it 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. 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. For example, changes in the company's cost of equity or the risk free rate can significantly impact the valuation. For National Grid, we've compiled three additional aspects you should consider:

  1. Risks: For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for National Grid (1 doesn't sit too well with us!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

  2. Future Earnings: How does NG.'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 British stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock 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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