What is a business valuation?
A business valuation is an estimate of the value of a business or of an interest in a business.
Should the value of a business have any relationship to the value in the marketplace?
A business valuation should consider the market value that a buyer could reasonably be expected to pay, and that a seller could reasonably be expected to accept, if the business were exposed for sale on the open market for a reasonable period of time, both buyer and seller being in possession of the pertinent facts, and neither being under compulsion to act.
Why are valuations done?
A valuation may be necessary to sell a company, to buy a company, to sell shares of a company to key employees, to settle estates, for divorce property settlements, insurance purposes or to simply keep informed of the company's value as growth takes place.
What information should be used to complete a valuation?
The Business Brokerage Group uses primary information for valuations such as tax returns and accountant prepared financial statements for up to five fiscal years, interviews with the principal and employees, tours of the business facility, reviews of customer lists, tangible business assets, general operating and management information, and other information concerning business operations. Analysis is also done to compare the company's financial performance to others within the same industry.
What is done with all of this business information?
The basis of any valuation should be the analysis and reconstruction of business earnings, an assessment of current business assets, and an opinion of the future of the business. The valuation considers the continuity of business income, market competitiveness, industry growth, company longevity and reputation, financial trends, management depth, customer mix, the quality of the products and services offered, and the general desirability of the business.
What is more important, business earnings or business assets?
It is true that earnings must support the purchase of business assets. It is also true that assets must be available to serve as financial or even "psychological" collateral. A common finding is that the mix of assets and earnings will vary considerably among businesses. This mix is then judged accordingly for that particular business.
How are assets and earnings best displayed?
In most valuations it is necessary to reconstruct the tax oriented income statement and balance sheet to display the information as it would appear to a new owner.
For example, the income statement may need to be adjusted to better show the pre-tax earnings that a business can generate. This is necessary since an income statement is prepared for tax purposes and in general will attempt to lower taxable earnings. For example, a business may show a non-cash expense such as depreciation, in excess of what would be necessary for a reasonable replacement fund. Also, an owner may be receiving a salary that is either too high or low for the work that is being performed. Both of these cases will require adjustment. Another adjustment is usually required for interest expenses since a new owner will have a different debt and equity structure than the current owner. There may also be other adjustments on expense items which are not necessarily important for business operations but considered important to the owner as additional benefits or compensation.
In addition, a company's balance sheet may display equipment that is fully or almost fully depreciated, but that has a higher fair market value. The balance sheet may also display certain assets such as franchise fees or real property at cost, but they may actually have appreciated in value. Conversely, there may also be unrelated business assets that should be eliminated. These and other adjustments to a company's book value of assets need to be made in order to show the current fair market value.
Is there one best way to value a business?
The Business Brokerage Group uses a series of approaches to value a business. Some approaches are more useful that others based on the mix of assets, earnings, business potential and other specific conditions of the business.
Need more information? Please read Improving business before selling can add value.