Discounted Cash Flow Analysis
Discounted cash flow analysis (“DCF analysis” or the “DCF”) is a fundamental valuation methodology broadly used by investment bankers, corporate officers, university professors, investors, and other finance professionals. It is premised on the principle that the value of a company, division, business, or collection of assets (“target”) can be derived from the present value of its projected free cash flow (FCF). A company’s projected FCF is derived from a variety of assumptions and judgments about its expected financial performance, including sales growth rates, profit margins, capital expenditures, and net working capital (NWC) requirements. The DCF has a wide range of applications, including valuation for various M&A situations, IPOs, restructurings, and investment decisions.
The valuation implied for a target by a DCF is also known as its intrinsic value, as opposed to its market value, which is the value ascribed by the market at a given point in time. As a result, when performing a comprehensive valuation, a DCF serves as an important alternative to market-based valuation techniques such as comparable companies and precedent transactions, which can be distorted by a number of factors, including market aberrations (e.g., the post-subprime credit crunch). As such, a DCF plays an important role as a check on the prevailing market valuation for a publicly traded company. A DCF is also valuable when there are limited (or no) pure play, peer ...