Estimating The Intrinsic Value Of Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE:WM)

Waste Management, Inc. -0.28% Pre

Waste Management, Inc.

WM

207.46

207.46

-0.28%

0.00% Pre

Key Insights

  • Using the 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity, Waste Management fair value estimate is US$182
  • Current share price of US$161 suggests Waste Management is potentially trading close to its fair value
  • The US$180 analyst price target for WM is 1.2% less than our estimate of fair value

How far off is Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE:WM) from its intrinsic value? Using the most recent financial data, we'll take a look at whether the stock is fairly priced 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. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

We generally believe that a company's value is the present value of all of the cash it will generate in the future. However, a DCF is just one valuation metric among many, and it is not without flaws. For those who are keen learners of equity analysis, the Simply Wall St analysis model here may be something of interest to you.

View our latest analysis for Waste Management

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. 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, 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) estimate

2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032 2033
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$2.22b US$2.97b US$3.42b US$3.68b US$3.88b US$4.05b US$4.20b US$4.34b US$4.46b US$4.58b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x11 Analyst x7 Analyst x3 Analyst x3 Est @ 5.37% Est @ 4.40% Est @ 3.73% Est @ 3.25% Est @ 2.92% Est @ 2.69%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.1% US$2.1k US$2.6k US$2.8k US$2.8k US$2.8k US$2.7k US$2.6k US$2.5k US$2.4k US$2.3k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$26b

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 7.1%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2033 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$4.6b× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (7.1%– 2.2%) = US$95b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$95b÷ ( 1 + 7.1%)10= US$48b

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$73b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$161, the company appears about fair value at a 11% 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
NYSE:WM Discounted Cash Flow October 30th 2023

The 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 Waste Management 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 7.1%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.987. 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 Waste Management

Strength
  • Debt is well covered by earnings and cashflows.
  • Dividends are covered by earnings and cash flows.
Weakness
  • Earnings growth over the past year underperformed the Commercial Services industry.
  • Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the Commercial Services 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:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. 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 Waste Management, there are three pertinent elements you should look at:

  1. Risks: Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with Waste Management , and understanding this should be part of your investment process.
  2. Future Earnings: How does WM'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 NYSE every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks just search here.

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