Value Blog

Valuable Answers to Your Business Valuation Questions

12 Feb

Two Valuations May Not Be Alike

Posted in General valuation topics on 12.02.10

I get so involved in dealing with valuation issues that I forget to write about them. I have had the same issue come up a number of times in the past few months: Clients want to know if they can use a valuation for a number of different things. The answer is generally no, because Valuation reports are date specific and purpose specific.

So what does that mean? Date specific is easier to explain. A valuation is a snapshot of a particular type of value as of a specific date. Most people can understand that they would not necessarily buy or sell publicly traded stock based on a price from three months ago. They would make their decision based on today’s price. While the value of a private company may not change significantly over time, it also could change. The value is determined based on the known or knowable facts as of the valuation date. It does not take into consideration changes in the economic climate after the valuation date, or increases or decreases in revenue. Either of these factors could result in a change in value from one date to another.

Valuations are also purpose specific. Some different purposes could be gifting an interest, the value of a business for a divorce or the value for a dispute with a shareholder. Since different types of value may be used for different purposes, the resulting values may be different. For example, a gift of a 10% interest (minority and non-marketable) could not be used to estimate the value of 55% interest of the company (control and non-marketable) for purposes of a shareholder. The minority interest may have been reduced by discounts for lack of control, whereas a 55% interest would usually not have a minority discount applied. The discount for lack of marketability for a 10% interest could be different than for a 55% interest, and in some shareholder disputes, state statutes may dictate that no adjustment be applied. This example also indicates that two interests, a minority and a controlling interest could have different per share values based on other factors as well. Appraisal reports state that they are for a specific valuation date, valuating a specific identified interest and for a specific purpose. This is so that an uniformed user would not mistakenly misuse the valuation report and reach an inappropriate conclusion.

© 2010 Florida Business Valuation Group


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06 Aug

Do financial statements reflect the value of a business?

Posted in General valuation topics on 06.08.09

A recent article in the Journal of Accountancy, “Four Options for Measuring Value Creation”, brought up some very good points regarding why the financial statements of a company are flawed as measures of value. The article lists a number of reasons, but top on the list is that value is future oriented, whereas most of the measures on financial statements are historically based. Value is based on anticipated future benefits.

So what does a balance sheet tell you about a business? A balance sheet typically has the historical net cost of the assets a business has acquired over time. The balance sheet does not tell you the type of assets, their age or condition. Older assets may be depreciated and have a very low book value, but still be fully functional in the business. The balance sheet does not indicate what future capital expenses will be to either replace old equipment or to support future growth. Intangible assets, including intellectual property and goodwill, are usually not reflected on the balance sheet even though they may have substantial value.

A balance sheet reports the liabilities of a company. Unless you are reading footnotes to the financial statement (assuming the financial statements have footnotes), the balance sheet usually does not tell you the terms of the liabilities or when they mature. It also does not reflect how old the payables are or whether the company has unused lines of credit. Understanding the obligations of a company is necessary in understanding its value.

Is value better reflected on the income statement of a company? Many people think that profitability, which is reflected on the income statement, the primary element contributing to value. There are two potential problems with this assumption. First profitability is not the same as cash flow. For example, necessary investments in capital expenses for new equipment can impact cash flow while having a minimal impact on profitability. The other issue is the assumption that the level of profitability reported will be sustainable. A business can have increasing sales over a prior year, but if its receivables are increasing at a faster pace, there could either be a problem with collections or the growth may not be sustainable.

Financial statements provide important, but limited information about a company.  Understanding the financial statements is only the beginning in the process of determining the value of a company.

©2009 Florida Business Valuation Group


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20 Jul

What does the market approach capture?

Posted in General valuation topics on 20.07.09

The conceptual background behind the market approach is to use the behavior of buyers and sellers to arrive at a multiple which reflects the market.  Market methods can be divided into two basic groups: guideline public companies and private company transactions.

There are some major distinctions between the underlying data used for each method.  The public guideline company method uses information from publicly traded companies that are most similar to the company being valued.  The appraiser’s analysis of comparability may include factors such as type of business, size, geographic operations, growth prospects, past historical operating performance and any other factors which may be appropriate.  The appraiser identifies the most comparable companies and then derives valuation multiples based on the trading prices of the guideline companies’ stock as of the valuation date.  This data is based on marketable, minority interests in the guideline companies.

Private company transaction methodology is generally based on the theory that a sufficient number of private transactions will emulate the market for that type of company.  There are a number of databases which track private transactions of companies.  The information is collected from business brokers and intermediaries involved in the transactions, who report the information to the database services.  Each database contains different amounts of information regarding the companies.  The information about these companies represents a non-marketable, control interest in the transaction companies.

So what is the difference?  The public company transactions are evidence of the market value based on a large number of transactions which have been completed between buyers and sellers.  That is the reason that a large number of public companies is not required in order to use the methodology to arrive at valuation multiples.  Each company alone is evidence of the market.

Private company transactions may or may not take place at market value. Buyers and sellers have their own motivations for entering into transactions.   There is only one transaction for each company, unlike with public companies where you could have anywhere from under one million to over 250 million trades in a single day.  The concept behind private company transaction methodology is that with a sufficient number of transactions, the average or mid-point will represent what the market looks like.  That is why more transactions are necessary under the private company transaction methodology.  A few transactions may not be sufficient to represent the market.

What is important to understand is that each valuation is different. Applying any methodology is based on the facts and circumstances particular to the company being valued and the valuation date.

©2009 Florida Business Valuation Group


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11 May

Can’t the appraiser just give me a rough idea of the value?

Posted in General valuation topics on 11.05.09

I constantly get requests and questions about “informal” valuations or rough estimates of value.  In some cases, individuals are deciding whether to buy a business and they want a sanity check that they are not overpaying for the business.  In other cases, most often divorce, the parties are trying to settle a case at mediation, so they do not have the same requirements that they would to prove value if they went to trial.

Regardless of the purpose, an appraiser who follows standards of any of the generally accepted organizations will have to perform a valuation in compliance with those standards if they are determining value.  In other words, there are no shortcuts if the client wants a number from the appraiser.

The definition of a valuation is very broad.  It includes the use of valuation approaches and methodology as well as the application of the appraiser’s judgment.  The standards all indicate how the appraiser develops the value.  A number of the appraisal organizations refer to the section of the standards dealing with this as developmental standards.

So while a client looking to purchase a business may not see the “number” that he requests as being a valuation, it most likely is.

In situations of litigation, there is often confusion about the applicability of standards.  This arises because of a reporting exception in some of the standards.  The reporting exception provides that appraisers do not have to present his or her findings in compliance with the reporting standards.  The thought behind this is that in a litigation or controversy matter, the opposing party or trier of fact will adequately question the appraiser so that the relevant elements are disclosed, making the format of the report less important.

If you think about it, the reason to hire an appraiser to provide you with a value is for you to have something that you can rely upon.  If you do not need the number to rely upon, then you do not need the appraiser.  When you are relying on a value provided by an appraiser, it should be developed in accordance with applicable standards.  To perform a valuation requires a minimum amount of time, and that time translates to money.  While some situations may not seem to warrant the cost, if an independent appraisal is necessary, there is no other option.

© 2009 Florida Business Valuation Group


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