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Calculating The Intrinsic Value Of Serco Group plc (LON:SRP)

Key Insights

  • The projected fair value for Serco Group is UK£2.05 based on 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity

  • Serco Group's UK£1.82 share price indicates it is trading at similar levels as its fair value estimate

  • The UK£2.24 analyst price target for SRP is 9.0% more than our estimate of fair value

In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Serco Group plc (LON:SRP) 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. There's really not all that much to it, even though it might appear quite complex.

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 Serco Group

Is Serco Group Fairly Valued?

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 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, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

2024

2025

2026

2027

2028

2029

2030

2031

2032

2033

Levered FCF (£, Millions)

UK£145.4m

UK£169.8m

UK£198.4m

UK£169.1m

UK£152.5m

UK£142.8m

UK£137.3m

UK£134.2m

UK£132.9m

UK£132.7m

Growth Rate Estimate Source

Analyst x5

Analyst x4

Analyst x3

Est @ -14.77%

Est @ -9.81%

Est @ -6.33%

Est @ -3.90%

Est @ -2.20%

Est @ -1.01%

Est @ -0.18%

Present Value (£, Millions) Discounted @ 7.5%

UK£135

UK£147

UK£160

UK£127

UK£106

UK£92.7

UK£82.9

UK£75.4

UK£69.5

UK£64.5

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = UK£1.1b

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 1.8%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.5%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2033 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = UK£133m× (1 + 1.8%) ÷ (7.5%– 1.8%) = UK£2.4b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= UK£2.4b÷ ( 1 + 7.5%)10= UK£1.2b

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 UK£2.2b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of UK£1.8, the company appears about fair value at a 11% 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.

dcf
dcf

The Assumptions

The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the cash flows. Part of investing is coming up with your own evaluation of a company's future performance, so try the calculation yourself and check your own 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 Serco Group 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 7.5%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.041. 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 Serco Group

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 Commercial Services 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:

Whilst important, the DCF calculation 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. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. For instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. For Serco Group, we've compiled three essential aspects you should further research:

  1. Risks: We feel that you should assess the 3 warning signs for Serco Group (1 doesn't sit too well with us!) we've flagged before making an investment in the company.

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

  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 British 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.