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Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of Luminar Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:LAZR) as an investment opportunity 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. Believe it or not, it's not too difficult to follow, as you'll see from our example!
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. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.
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. 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.
Generally we assume that a dollar today is more valuable than a dollar in the future, 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 ($, Millions)
Growth Rate Estimate Source
Est @ 65.52%
Est @ 46.45%
Est @ 33.1%
Est @ 23.76%
Est @ 17.22%
Est @ 12.64%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.7%
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$1.7b
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 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield (2.0%) 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 7.7%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$820m× (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (7.7%– 2.0%) = US$15b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$15b÷ ( 1 + 7.7%)10= US$7.0b
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 US$8.7b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$15.0, the company appears quite undervalued at a 38% discount to where the stock price trades currently. The assumptions in any calculation have a big impact on the valuation, so it is better to view this as a rough estimate, not precise down to the last cent.
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 Luminar Technologies 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 7.7%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.301. 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 ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for 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 instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. What is the reason for the share price sitting below the intrinsic value? For Luminar Technologies, we've compiled three essential elements you should further examine:
Risks: For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Luminar Technologies 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 LAZR's future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.
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. 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.
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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.