Is there an opportunity with the 43% undervaluation of Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ)?
How far is Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) from its intrinsic value? Using the most recent financial data, we’ll examine whether the stock’s price is fair by taking expected future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model is the tool we will apply to do this. Believe it or not, it’s not too hard to follow, as you will see in our example!
Keep in mind, however, that there are many ways to estimate the value of a business and that a DCF is just one method. For those who are passionate about equity analysis, the Simply Wall St analysis template here may be something of interest to you.
The calculation
We are going to use a two-step DCF model, which, as the name suggests, takes into account two stages of growth. The first stage is usually a period of higher growth which stabilizes towards the terminal value, captured in the second period of “steady growth”. To begin with, we need to estimate the next ten years of cash flow. Where possible, we use analyst estimates, but when these are not available, we extrapolate the previous Free Cash Flow (FCF) from the latest estimate or stated value. We assume that companies with decreasing free cash flow will slow their rate of contraction, and companies with increasing free cash flow will see their growth rate slow during this period. We do this to reflect the fact that growth tends to slow down more in the early years than in subsequent years.
In general, we assume that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar in the future, so we need to discount the sum of these future cash flows to arrive at an estimate of the present value:
10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast
2022 | 2023 | 2024 | 2025 | 2026 | 2027 | 2028 | 2029 | 2030 | 2031 | |
Leverage FCF ($, Millions) | US $ 202.0 million | US $ 272.0 million | US $ 292.3 million | US $ 309.4 million | US $ 323.8 million | US $ 336.3 million | US $ 347.3 million | $ 357.4 million | US $ 366.7 million | US $ 375.5 million |
Source of growth rate estimate | Analyst x1 | Analyst x1 | East @ 7.48% | Est @ 5.82% | East @ 4.67% | Est @ 3.85% | East @ 3.29% | East @ 2.89% | East @ 2.61% | East @ 2.41% |
Present value (in millions of dollars) discounted at 9.4% | US $ 185 | US $ 227 | US $ 223 | $ 216 | $ 207 | US $ 196 | US $ 185 | $ 174 | 163 USD | US $ 153 |
(“East” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
10-year present value of cash flows (PVCF) = US $ 1.9 billion
After calculating the present value of future cash flows over the initial 10 year period, we need to calculate the terminal value, which takes into account all future cash flows beyond the first step. The Gordon growth formula is used to calculate the terminal value at a future annual growth rate equal to the 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield of 2.0%. We discount the terminal cash flows to their present value at a cost of equity of 9.4%.
Terminal value (TV)= FCF_{2031} × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US $ 376 million × (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (9.4% to 2.0%) = US $ 5.2 billion
Present value of terminal value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)^{ten}= US $ 5.2 billion ÷ (1 + 9.4%)^{ten}= US $ 2.1 billion
Total value, or net worth, is then the sum of the present value of future cash flows, which in this case is $ 4.0 billion. In the last step, we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US $ 38.4, the company appears to have very good value at a 43% discount from the current share price. Ratings are imprecise instruments, however, much like a telescope – move a few degrees and end up in another galaxy. Keep this in mind.
NasdaqGS: CSIQ Discounted Cash Flow November 7, 2021
Important assumptions
The above calculation is very dependent on two assumptions. One is the discount rate and the other is cash flow. You don’t have to agree with these entries, I recommend that you redo the calculations yourself and play with them. The DCF also does not take into account the possible cyclicality of an industry or the future capital needs of a company, so it does not give a complete picture of a company’s potential performance. Since we view Canadian Solar 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 takes debt into account. In this calculation, we used 9.4%, which is based on a leveraged beta of 1.697. Beta is a measure of the volatility of a stock relative to the market as a whole. We get our average beta from the industry beta of comparable companies globally, with an imposed limit between 0.8 and 2.0, which is a reasonable range for a stable company.
Looking forward:
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 business. The DCF model is not a perfect equity valuation tool. Rather, it should be seen as a guide to “what assumptions must be true for this stock to be under / overvalued?” If a business grows at a different rate, or if its cost of equity or risk-free rate changes sharply, output can be very different. Why is intrinsic value greater than the current share price? For Canadian Solar, there are three other aspects that you should consider further:
- Risks: For example, we discovered 2 warning signs for Canadian Solar (1 shouldn’t be ignored!) Which you should be aware of before investing here.
- Future benefits: How does CSIQ’s growth rate compare with that of its peers and the broader market? Dig deeper into the analyst consensus number for years to come by interacting with our free analyst growth expectations chart.
- Other strong companies: 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 trading fundamentals to see if there are other companies you may not have considered!
PS. The Simply Wall St app performs a daily discounted cash flow assessment for each NASDAQGS share. If you want to find the calculation for other actions, just search here.
This Simply Wall St article is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts using only unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell shares and does not take into account your goals or your financial situation. Our aim is to bring you long-term, targeted analysis based on fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not take into account the latest announcements from price sensitive companies or qualitative documents. Simply Wall St has no position in the mentioned stocks.
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