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A Look At The Intrinsic Value Of Marathon Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:MPC)

Key Insights

  • Marathon Petroleum's estimated fair value is US$222 based on 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity

  • With US$180 share price, Marathon Petroleum appears to be trading close to its estimated fair value

  • The US$210 analyst price target for MPC is 5.3% less than our estimate of fair value

Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Marathon Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:MPC) by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. We will take advantage of the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model for this purpose. 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. 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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See our latest analysis for Marathon Petroleum

The Calculation

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.

Generally we assume that a dollar today is more valuable than a dollar in the future, 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$7.26b

US$6.79b

US$6.60b

US$5.41b

US$5.85b

US$5.63b

US$5.52b

US$5.48b

US$5.50b

US$5.55b

Growth Rate Estimate Source

Analyst x6

Analyst x5

Analyst x4

Analyst x1

Analyst x1

Est @ -3.83%

Est @ -1.96%

Est @ -0.66%

Est @ 0.25%

Est @ 0.89%

Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.7%

US$6.7k

US$5.7k

US$5.1k

US$3.9k

US$3.9k

US$3.4k

US$3.1k

US$2.8k

US$2.6k

US$2.4k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$40b

The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business's cash flow after 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 2.4%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 8.7%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2033 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$5.5b× (1 + 2.4%) ÷ (8.7%– 2.4%) = US$89b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$89b÷ ( 1 + 8.7%)10= US$39b

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$78b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$180, the company appears about fair value at a 19% 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.

dcf
dcf

Important Assumptions

The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the 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 Marathon Petroleum 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 8.7%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.382. 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 Marathon Petroleum

Strength

  • Debt is well covered by earnings and cashflows.

  • Dividends are covered by earnings and cash flows.

Weakness

  • Earnings declined over the past year.

  • 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 and estimated fair value.

Threat

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

Looking Ahead:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize 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?" For instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. For Marathon Petroleum, there are three additional items you should consider:

  1. Risks: Be aware that Marathon Petroleum is showing 4 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those doesn't sit too well with us...

  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for MPC's future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.

  3. 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.

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.