Does the October share price for Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG) reflect what it’s really worth? Today, we will estimate the stock’s intrinsic value by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to today’s value. One way to achieve this is by employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Models like these may appear beyond the comprehension of a lay person, but they’re fairly easy to follow.

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.

See our latest analysis for Booking Holdings

Crunching the numbers

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 discount the value of these future cash flows to their estimated value in today’s dollars:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate

2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$3.86b US$5.02b US$4.98b US$5.61b US$6.06b US$6.45b US$6.78b US$7.07b US$7.33b US$7.56b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x4 Analyst x3 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ 8.16% Est @ 6.37% Est @ 5.13% Est @ 4.26% Est @ 3.65% Est @ 3.22%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 10% US$3.5k US$4.1k US$3.7k US$3.8k US$3.7k US$3.6k US$3.4k US$3.2k US$3.0k US$2.8k

(“Est” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$35b

We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after this ten year period. 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 2.2%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today’s value at a cost of equity of 10%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$7.6b× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (10%– 2.2%) = US$96b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$96b÷ ( 1 + 10%)10= US$36b

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$71b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$1.7k, the company appears about fair value at a 1.7% 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.

Important assumptions

Now 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 Booking Holdings 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 10%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.337. 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.

Looking Ahead:

Whilst important, the DCF calculation 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. Rather it should be seen as a guide to “what assumptions need to be true for this stock to be under/overvalued?” For example, changes in the company’s cost of equity or the risk free rate can significantly impact the valuation. For Booking Holdings, we’ve compiled three essential items you should consider:

  1. Risks: We feel that you should assess the 1 warning sign for Booking Holdings we’ve flagged before making an investment in the company.
  2. Future Earnings: How does BKNG’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 American stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.

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. 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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