Tips On Completing Discounted Cash Flow Analysis

discounted cash flow analysisSteps is the discounted cash flow analysis

Discounted cash flow analysis (DCF analysis), is a method used to try and figure the value of a company today based on projections of how much money it will make in the future. It is known as “discounted” cash flow because money in the future is worth less than money today. DCF analysis is forward-looking, depending more on future expectations such as future sales growth and profit margins than past results. It is based on free cash flow (FCF) which isn’t as easily manipulated as some other figures and ratios. However small changes in inputs can result in large changes in the value of a company which is its major weakness. The basic steps in a DCF analysis are as follows:

  1. Estimate Cash-flows
  2. Estimate Growth Profile and Growth Rates.
  3. Calculate Discount Rate
  4. Calculate the Terminal Value.
  5. Calculate fair value of company and its equity

Tips and suggestions for completing discounted cash flow analysis

When doing a discounted cash flow analysis it should always be remembered that it is sensitive to inputs and the wrong inputs will result in wrong results. It is best used in combination with other tools to get the most out of it. The following tips will help you complete a more effective discounted cash flow analysis:

  • Focus on free cash flows when estimating cash flows. Free cash flows are money that is available after all expenses and investments have taken place. The two main definitions are:
    1. Free Cash Flow to the Firm(FCFF)
    2. Free Cash Flow to the Equity(FCFE)
  • Use a cash flow analysis template to help make your cash flow analysis and make sure to keep track of of estimated and actual inputs.
  • The best way to accurately estimate growth is usually based on the proportion of the after tax operating income that is invested in net capital expenditures and non cash working capital, although it is an involved calculation.
  • Discounted cash flow analysis is most effective with companies that have positive and predictable cash flows.

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