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An Intrinsic Calculation For APA Corporation (NASDAQ:APA) Suggests It's 23% Undervalued

Key Insights

  • APA's estimated fair value is US$48.09 based on 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity

  • APA is estimated to be 23% undervalued based on current share price of US$36.88

  • Our fair value estimate is 1.8% lower than APA's analyst price target of US$48.96

In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of APA Corporation (NASDAQ:APA) 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. Models like these may appear beyond the comprehension of a lay person, but they're fairly easy to follow.

Companies can be valued in a lot of ways, so we would point out that a DCF is not perfect for every situation. For those who are keen learners of equity analysis, the Simply Wall St analysis model here may be something of interest to you.

See our latest analysis for APA

Crunching The Numbers

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. In the first stage we need to estimate the cash flows to the business over the next ten years. 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

2024

2025

2026

2027

2028

2029

2030

2031

2032

2033

Levered FCF ($, Millions)

US$1.89b

US$1.41b

US$1.29b

US$1.32b

US$1.21b

US$1.15b

US$1.12b

US$1.11b

US$1.10b

US$1.11b

Growth Rate Estimate Source

Analyst x9

Analyst x5

Analyst x2

Analyst x2

Est @ -8.03%

Est @ -4.95%

Est @ -2.80%

Est @ -1.29%

Est @ -0.24%

Est @ 0.50%

Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 9.4%

US$1.7k

US$1.2k

US$983

US$920

US$774

US$672

US$597

US$539

US$491

US$451

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$8.3b

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 (2.2%) 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 9.4%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2033 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$1.1b× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (9.4%– 2.2%) = US$16b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$16b÷ ( 1 + 9.4%)10= US$6.4b

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$15b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$36.9, the company appears a touch undervalued at a 23% 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

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. 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 APA 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 9.4%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.437. 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 APA

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

  • 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.

Next Steps:

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?" For instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. What is the reason for the share price sitting below the intrinsic value? For APA, we've put together three pertinent factors you should look at:

  1. Risks: Case in point, we've spotted 2 warning signs for APA you should be aware of.

  2. Future Earnings: How does APA'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 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 NASDAQGS 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.