The projected fair value for Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings is US$387 based on 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity
Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings' US$233 share price signals that it might be 40% undervalued
Analyst price target for LH is US$284 which is 27% below our fair value estimate
Does the April share price for Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (NYSE:LH) reflect what it's really worth? Today, we will estimate the stock's intrinsic value by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to today's value. We will take advantage of the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model for this purpose. Before you think you won't be able to understand it, just read on! It's actually much less complex than you'd imagine.
Remember though, that there are many ways to estimate a company's value, and a DCF is just one method. For those who are keen learners of equity analysis, the Simply Wall St analysis model here may be something of interest to you.
Is Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings Fairly Valued?
We are going to use a two-stage DCF model, which, as the name states, takes into account two stages of growth. The first stage is generally a higher growth period which levels off heading towards the terminal value, captured in the second 'steady growth' period. To begin with, we have to get estimates of the next ten years of cash flows. Where possible we use analyst estimates, but when these aren't available we extrapolate the previous free cash flow (FCF) from the last estimate or reported value. We assume companies with shrinking free cash flow will slow their rate of shrinkage, and that companies with growing free cash flow will see their growth rate slow, over this period. We do this to reflect that growth tends to slow more in the early years than it does in later years.
A DCF is all about the idea that a dollar in the future is less valuable than a dollar today, so we discount the value of these future cash flows to their estimated value in today's dollars:
10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate
Levered FCF ($, Millions)
Growth Rate Estimate Source
Est @ 4.71%
Est @ 3.92%
Est @ 3.36%
Est @ 2.98%
Est @ 2.70%
Est @ 2.51%
Est @ 2.38%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.1%
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$12b
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. 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 (2.1%) 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 7.1%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2032 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$2.1b× (1 + 2.1%) ÷ (7.1%– 2.1%) = US$43b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$43b÷ ( 1 + 7.1%)10= US$22b
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$34b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$233, the company appears quite good value at a 40% discount to where the stock price trades currently. Remember though, that this is just an approximate valuation, and like any complex formula - garbage in, garbage out.
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 Laboratory Corporation of America 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 7.1%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.849. 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 Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings
Debt is well covered by earnings and cashflows.
Dividends are covered by earnings and cash flows.
Earnings declined over the past year.
Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the Healthcare market.
Annual earnings are forecast to grow for the next 3 years.
Good value based on P/E ratio and estimated fair value.
Annual earnings are forecast to grow slower than the American market.
Whilst important, the DCF calculation is only one of many factors that you need to assess for a company. It's not possible to obtain a foolproof valuation with a DCF model. Rather it should be seen as a guide to "what assumptions need to be true for this stock to be under/overvalued?" If a company grows at a different rate, or if its cost of equity or risk free rate changes sharply, the output can look very different. Why is the intrinsic value higher than the current share price? For Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, we've put together three pertinent items you should explore:
Risks: You should be aware of the 3 warning signs for Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings we've uncovered before considering an investment in the company.
Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for LH'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. 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.
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