DCF terminal values: Using the right exit multiple

If a valuation multiple, such as EV/EBITDA, is used to calculate a DCF terminal value, the multiple should reflect expected business dynamics at the end of the explicit forecast period and not at the valuation date. This is best achieved by basing the exit multiple on forward-priced multiples for the selected group of comparable companies.

We explain and illustrate with an interactive model the use of forward-priced multiples in DCF. We also discuss the choice of multiple (including why EV/EBITDA may not be the best) and whether to apply the exit multiple to reported or adjusted profit.

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DCF terminal values: Returns, growth and intangibles

If DCF terminal values are based on continuing forecast cash flow, it is important that the reinvestment assumption is consistent with long-term return expectations. We provide an interactive DCF model that demonstrates four alternative cash flow growth-based terminal value calculations, along with related returns analysis.

One of the challenges when using returns in equity valuation is the limited recognition of intangible assets. Adjustments to capitalise intangible investment do not change cash flow but can help in ensuring that the assumptions that drive forecast cash flows are realistic.

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Enterprise to equity bridge – more fair value required

A largely cost-based measurement approach in financial reporting generally provides sufficient information about operating ‘flows’ to enable investors to apply enterprise value based DCF (or DCF proxy) valuation models. However, fair values are crucial for the ‘bridge’ from enterprise to equity value.

Fair values are available for many, but not all, of the assets, liabilities and equity claims that should be included in the enterprise to equity bridge. We explain the limitations of current financial reporting and where you may need to do further analysis.

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DCF and pensions: Enterprise or equity cash flow?

Defined benefit pension schemes create two leverage effects – financial leverage due to the debt-like nature of pension deficits, and asset allocation leverage if pension assets are not matched with pension liabilities. In DCF valuation these effects must be correctly, and consistently, included in both the discount rate and free cash flow.

We use an interactive model to demonstrate four possible DCF approaches based on enterprise and equity cash flows. Our preferred approach uses enterprise free cash flow with the effects of asset allocation leverage excluded from the discount rate.

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Allocating value: An option-based approach – Air France-KLM

You might assume that a change in enterprise value completely accrues to equity investors; however, this is often not the case. Other claims, such as debt or equity warrants, also change in value as enterprise value changes. Understanding this effect can be important when analysing many companies, especially those in financial distress.

Option-like characteristics of debt and equity claims drive the allocation of changes in enterprise value between debt and equity investors. We apply an interactive model to analyse recent changes in the enterprise value of Air France–KLM.

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Why you should ‘forward price’ valuation multiples

The number of alternative valuation multiples can seem endless. Many different metrics, such as EBITDA and EPS, can be combined with different measures of value, such as the stock price and enterprise value. But there is a further variation that often seems to be overlooked – the pricing basis.

Valuation multiples can be based on a historical price (or EV), a current price, or the less commonly used forward price. We advocate greater use of forward priced multiples. They are more comparable and relevant for relative valuation comparisons and provide a better basis for terminal values in DCF analysis.

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