CHAPTER 20 Understanding Free Cash Flows (The Dollar Stores)

The previous chapter used the technique of free-cash flows to the firm (FCFf) to value Family Dollar. That approach used the WACC to discount the cash flows. In this chapter, we will explore more deeply how the free cash flow formulas are derived. We will do this while introducing the free cash flows to equity (FCFe) technique. The FCFe has several advantages over the FCFf approach. In particular, FCFe allows the debt ratio to vary, which is useful when evaluating LBOs and restructurings where the debt level may change dramatically over time. This approach is now a standard at almost all investment banks (and is usually called an LBO valuation) and is used in combination with the free-cash-flows-to-the-firm approach. The FCFf approach still dominates in corporations, although more corporations are using both FCFf and FCFe.

Comparing the Free-Cash-Flows Formulas

As described in Chapter 14 and 19, the formula for free cash flows to the firm is: EBIT after tax plus depreciation minus CAPEX minus the change in working capital plus any extras.

FCFf = EBIT * (1 – Tc) + Dep – CAPEX – (NWCend – NWCbegin) + Extras


  • FCFf= free cash flows to the firm
  • EBIT = earnings before interest and taxes
  • Tc= the average tax rate to the firm
  • Dep = depreciation and amortization
  • CAPEX = capital expenditures
  • NWCend/begin= net working capital at the end/start of the year (net working capital is cash required to maintain operations plus ...

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