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As part of our process, we perform a rigorous discounted cash-flow methodology that dives into the true intrinsic worth of companies. In Pfizer's (NYSE:PFE) case, we think the firm is fairly valued at $30, roughly 20% higher than where it is currently trading.

At Valuentum, we think a comprehensive analysis of a firm's discounted cash-flow valuation, relative valuation versus industry peers, as well as an assessment of technical and momentum indicators is the best way to identify the most attractive stocks at the best time to buy. This process culminates in what we call our Valuentum Buying Index, which ranks stocks on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. Essentially, we're looking for firms that overlap investment methodologies, thereby revealing the greatest interest by investors (we like firms that fall in the center of the diagram below). Click here to watch a video that explains the diagram.

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If a company is undervalued both on a DCF and on a relative valuation basis and is showing improvement in technical and momentum indicators, it scores high on our scale. Pfizer posts a VBI score of 7 on our scale, reflecting our 'fairly valued' DCF assessment of the firm (it had been trading below the low end of our fair value range), its attractive relative valuation versus peers, and bullish techinicals. We compare Pfizer to peers Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY), Merck (NYSE:MRK), and Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT). In the spirit of transparency, we show how the performance of our VBI has stacked up per underlying score here.

Our Report on Pfizer

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Investment Considerations

Investment Highlights

• Pfizer continues to face pressure from the loss of exclusivity of Lipitor, but we remain encouraged by potential new therapies in its pipeline and have no qualms with its decision to IPO its Animal Health business and sell its Nutrition business.

• Pfizer earns a ValueCreation™ rating of EXCELLENT, the highest possible mark on our scale. The firm has been generating economic value for shareholders for the past few years, a track record we view very positively. We expect the firm's return on invested capital (excluding goodwill) to expand to 32.6% from 20.9% during the next two years.

• The firm is trading at attractive valuation multiples relative to peers, but our DCF process indicates a less compelling opportunity. We'd wait for a clearer signal on valuation before jumping into the firm's shares. Still, we think there is 20% upside from today's levels.

• Pfizer has a good combination of strong free cash flow generation and manageable financial leverage. We expect the firm's free cash flow margin to average a whopping 37% in coming years. Total debt-to-EBITDA was 1.9 last year, while debt-to-book capitalization stood at 32.2%.

Business Quality

Economic Profit Analysis

The best measure of a firm's ability to create value for shareholders is expressed by comparing its return on invested capital (NASDAQ:ROIC) with its weighted average cost of capital (OTC:WACC). The gap or difference between ROIC and WACC is called the firm's economic profit spread. Pfizer's 3-year historical return on invested capital (without goodwill) is 19%, which is above the estimate of its cost of capital of 9.7%. As such, we assign the firm a ValueCreation™ rating of EXCELLENT. In the chart below, we show the probable path of ROIC in the years ahead based on the estimated volatility of key drivers behind the measure. The solid grey line reflects the most likely outcome, in our opinion, and represents the scenario that results in our fair value estimate.

Cash Flow Analysis

Firms that generate a free cash flow margin (free cash flow divided by total revenue) above 5% are usually considered cash cows. Pfizer's free cash flow margin has averaged about 23.4% during the past 3 years. As such, we think the firm's cash flow generation is relatively STRONG. The free cash flow measure shown above is derived by taking cash flow from operations less capital expenditures and differs from enterprise free cash flow (FCFF), which we use in deriving our fair value estimate for the company. At Pfizer, cash flow from operations increased about 11% from levels registered two years ago, while capital expenditures expanded about 38% over the same time period.

Valuation Analysis

Our discounted cash flow model indicates that Pfizer's shares are worth between $23.00 - $38.00 each. The margin of safety around our fair value estimate is driven by the firm's MEDIUM ValueRisk™ rating, which is derived from the historical volatility of key valuation drivers. The estimated fair value of $30 per share represents a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of about 27.1 times last year's earnings and an implied EV/EBITDA multiple of about 12.4 times last year's EBITDA. Our model reflects a compound annual revenue growth rate of -2.4% during the next five years, a pace that is lower than the firm's 3-year historical compound annual growth rate of 11.8%. Beyond year 5, we assume free cash flow will be roughly flat for the next 15 years and grow 3% in perpetuity. For Pfizer, we use a 9.7% weighted average cost of capital to discount future free cash flows. For more fair value estimates, please visit our website at Valuentum.com.

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Margin of Safety Analysis

Our discounted cash flow process values each firm on the basis of the present value of all future free cash flows. Although we estimate the firm's fair value at about $30 per share, every company has a range of probable fair values that's created by the uncertainty of key valuation drivers (like future revenue or earnings, for example). After all, if the future was known with certainty, we wouldn't see much volatility in the markets as stocks would trade precisely at their known fair values. Click here to learn why the margin of safety is important. Our ValueRisk™ rating sets the margin of safety or the fair value range we assign to each stock. In the graph below, we show this probable range of fair values for Pfizer. We think the firm is attractive below $23 per share (the green line), but quite expensive above $38 per share (the red line). The prices that fall along the yellow line, which includes our fair value estimate, represent a reasonable valuation for the firm, in our opinion.

Future Path of Fair Value

We estimate Pfizer's fair value at this point in time to be about $30 per share. As time passes, however, companies generate cash flow and pay out cash to shareholders in the form of dividends. The chart below compares the firm's current share price with the path of Pfizer's expected equity value per share over the next three years, assuming our long-term projections prove accurate. The range between the resulting downside fair value and upside fair value in Year 3 represents our best estimate of the value of the firm's shares three years hence. This range of potential outcomes is also subject to change over time, should our views on the firm's future cash flow potential change. The expected fair value of $37 per share in Year 3 represents our existing fair value per share of $30 increased at an annual rate of the firm's cost of equity less its dividend yield. The upside and downside ranges are derived in the same way, but from the upper and lower bounds of our fair value estimate range.

Pro Forma Financial Statements

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Source: Why We Think Pfizer Is Worth $30

Additional disclosure: Some of the firms above may be included in our Best Ideas Newsletter.