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Estimating The Intrinsic Value Of Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation (NASDAQ:CTSH)

Key Insights

  • Using the 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity, Cognizant Technology Solutions fair value estimate is US$80.21

  • Cognizant Technology Solutions' US$79.46 share price indicates it is trading at similar levels as its fair value estimate

  • Analyst price target for CTSH is US$78.12 which is 2.6% below our fair value estimate

Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation (NASDAQ:CTSH) by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to today's value. Our analysis will employ 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.

Remember though, that there are many ways to estimate a company's value, and a DCF is just one method. If you still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at the Simply Wall St analysis model.

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Check out our latest analysis for Cognizant Technology Solutions

Step By Step Through The Calculation

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) forecast

2024

2025

2026

2027

2028

2029

2030

2031

2032

2033

Levered FCF ($, Millions)

US$2.14b

US$2.34b

US$2.41b

US$2.34b

US$2.31b

US$2.31b

US$2.32b

US$2.35b

US$2.38b

US$2.42b

Growth Rate Estimate Source

Analyst x11

Analyst x11

Analyst x8

Analyst x2

Est @ -1.16%

Est @ -0.13%

Est @ 0.60%

Est @ 1.11%

Est @ 1.46%

Est @ 1.71%

Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.4%

US$2.0k

US$2.0k

US$1.9k

US$1.8k

US$1.6k

US$1.5k

US$1.4k

US$1.3k

US$1.3k

US$1.2k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$16b

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 2.3%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.4%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2033 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$2.4b× (1 + 2.3%) ÷ (7.4%– 2.3%) = US$49b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$49b÷ ( 1 + 7.4%)10= US$24b

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$40b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$79.5, the company appears about fair value at a 0.9% discount to where the stock price trades currently. The assumptions in any calculation have a big impact on the valuation, so it is better to view this as a rough estimate, not precise down to the last cent.

dcf
dcf

The Assumptions

Now the most important inputs to a discounted cash flow are the discount rate, and of course, the actual 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 Cognizant Technology Solutions 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 7.4%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.106. 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 Cognizant Technology Solutions

Strength

  • Debt is not viewed as a risk.

  • 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 IT market.

Opportunity

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

  • Good value based on P/E ratio and estimated fair value.

Threat

  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow slower than the American market.

Moving On:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it 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. 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. For Cognizant Technology Solutions, there are three essential aspects you should explore:

  1. Financial Health: Does CTSH have a healthy balance sheet? Take a look at our free balance sheet analysis with six simple checks on key factors like leverage and risk.

  2. Future Earnings: How does CTSH'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.

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.