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Calculating The Fair Value Of Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE:VLO)

Key Insights

  • Using the 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity, Valero Energy fair value estimate is US$131

  • Valero Energy's US$142 share price indicates it is trading at similar levels as its fair value estimate

  • Analyst price target for VLO is US$150, which is 15% above our fair value estimate

In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE:VLO) by taking the forecast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today's value. We will take advantage of the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model for this purpose. Don't get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.

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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View our latest analysis for Valero Energy

The Method

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.

A DCF is all about the idea that a dollar in the future is less valuable than a dollar today, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate

2024

2025

2026

2027

2028

2029

2030

2031

2032

2033

Levered FCF ($, Millions)

US$6.36b

US$4.88b

US$3.90b

US$3.92b

US$3.46b

US$3.21b

US$3.06b

US$2.98b

US$2.95b

US$2.94b

Growth Rate Estimate Source

Analyst x7

Analyst x5

Analyst x1

Analyst x1

Est @ -11.56%

Est @ -7.45%

Est @ -4.57%

Est @ -2.55%

Est @ -1.14%

Est @ -0.15%

Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.6%

US$5.9k

US$4.1k

US$3.0k

US$2.8k

US$2.3k

US$2.0k

US$1.7k

US$1.5k

US$1.4k

US$1.3k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$26b

After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the initial 10-year period, we need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all future cash flows beyond 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 2.2%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 8.6%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2033 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$2.9b× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (8.6%– 2.2%) = US$46b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$46b÷ ( 1 + 8.6%)10= US$20b

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is US$46b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$142, 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.

dcf
dcf

The 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. If you don't agree with these result, have a go at the calculation yourself and play with the 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 Valero Energy 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 8.6%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.295. 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 Valero Energy

Strength

  • Earnings growth over the past year exceeded the industry.

  • Debt is not viewed as a risk.

  • Dividends are covered by earnings and cash flows.

Weakness

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

Opportunity

  • Good value based on P/E ratio compared to estimated Fair P/E ratio.

Threat

  • Annual earnings are forecast to decline for the next 3 years.

Looking Ahead:

Whilst important, the DCF calculation is only one of many factors that you need to assess for 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 instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. For Valero Energy, we've compiled three additional items you should further research:

  1. Risks: Take risks, for example - Valero Energy has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

  2. Future Earnings: How does VLO'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. The Simply Wall St app conducts a discounted cash flow valuation for every stock on the NYSE 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.