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Estimating The Intrinsic Value Of RELX PLC (LON:REL)

Simply Wall St

Does the May share price for RELX PLC (LON:REL) reflect what it's really worth? Today, we will estimate the stock's intrinsic value by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. I will use the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

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.

See our latest analysis for RELX

Step by step through the calculation

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. 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.

A DCF is all about the idea that a dollar in the future is less valuable than a dollar today, so we need to discount the sum of these future cash flows to arrive at a present value estimate:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
Levered FCF (£, Millions) UK£1.82b UK£1.95b UK£2.07b UK£2.15b UK£2.21b UK£2.26b UK£2.30b UK£2.33b UK£2.36b UK£2.38b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x10 Analyst x9 Analyst x7 Est @ 3.9% Est @ 2.89% Est @ 2.18% Est @ 1.69% Est @ 1.34% Est @ 1.1% Est @ 0.93%
Present Value (£, Millions) Discounted @ 6.4% UK£1.7k UK£1.7k UK£1.7k UK£1.7k UK£1.6k UK£1.6k UK£1.5k UK£1.4k UK£1.4k UK£1.3k

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

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 10-year government bond rate of 0.5%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 6.4%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = UK£2.4b× (1 + 0.5%) ÷ 6.4%– 0.5%) = UK£41b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= UK£41b÷ ( 1 + 6.4%)10= UK£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 UK£38b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of UK£18.6, the company appears about fair value at a 5.2% 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.

LSE:REL Intrinsic value May 12th 2020

Important assumptions

Now the most important inputs to a discounted cash flow are the discount rate, and of course, the actual 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 RELX 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 6.4%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.959. 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.

Next Steps:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it shouldn’t be the only metric you look at when researching a company. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. 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 RELX, We've compiled three important aspects you should look at:

  1. Risks: We feel that you should assess the 1 warning sign for RELX 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 REL'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 GB stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.