Intangible asset accounting and the ‘value’ false negative

Few people seem to be satisfied with intangible asset accounting; depending on your perspective, there is either not enough or far too much of it. What is clear is that many valuable intangible assets go unrecognised in financial statements. The result is distorted financial ratios, including price to book.

The lack of intangible asset recognition means that most investors know to use book value with caution. This may not be the case for index providers, ‘smart beta’ funds and quant-based investing where price to book ratios are used to identify ‘value’ stocks and related indices.

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Enterprise value: Our preference for valuation multiples

Enterprise value multiples allow for better comparisons where capital structure differs and they provide a clearer focus on the core business. EV multiples also more reliably capture the cost of debt finance and other non-common stock claims; the amount reflected in net income and earnings per share can be out of date and incomplete.

Although they are generally our preferred approach, EV multiples present computational challenges that are not present in equity multiples. All valuation multiples have limitations and are less rigorous than full discounted cash flow analysis.

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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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Price earnings ratios – DCF in disguise

Are you trying to identify what is ‘priced in’ to a current stock price or work out a terminal value in a DCF analysis? A target valuation multiple calculation may be the answer. We present a simple interactive model.

Many dismiss valuation multiples as being too simplistic; however, multiples are just DCF in disguise. You can derive a price earnings ratio with the same value drivers as you would use in a discounted equity cash flow model.

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Enterprise value – calculation and mis-calculation

Valuation methods based on enterprise value have become the benchmark in equity valuation. Most of you will have analysed equity investments using valuation multiples based on enterprise value or used absolute valuation methods to derive an enterprise value.  

In simplistic terms enterprise value is market capitalisation plus net debt; but is that good enough? In many situations we think not.  We review the key building blocks of enterprise value to assist you in deriving relevant valuation metrics.

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EV to EBITDA multiples must be consistent – Novartis

Swiss pharma company Novartis provides investors with its own calculation of an EV/EBITDA multiple. However, in our view, the EV is inconsistent with EBITDA. We review the company’s calculation and suggest amendments to ensure it better captures the value of Novartis’ core business.

To derive useful valuation multiples, you must be consistent. Our main adjustment to the Novartis calculation relates to the value of their stake in fellow Swiss pharma company Roche.

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Should you ignore intangible amortisation? – AstraZeneca

Like many companies, AstraZeneca excludes intangible asset amortisation from its adjusted performance metrics. The stock currently trades at a price earnings ratio of 23x based on ‘core’ 2018 earnings, but without the add back the PE would be about 37x. Is the add back justified? And if so do companies add back the right amount?

The intangible amortisation problem in equity analysis arises from the inconsistency between the accounting for purchased and self-developed intangible assets. We argue that the accounting treatment of subsequent expenditure, either capitalised or expensed, determines the appropriate adjustment to reported earnings.

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Interactive model: Target enterprise value multiples

Use this model to derive ‘target’ enterprise value multiples that are consistent with specified value drivers, including measures of growth, return on investment, margins and capital intensity. The model is based on an underlying 2-stage DCF methodology. We explain its derivation, the key assumptions and how to select appropriate value driver inputs.

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Linking value drivers and enterprise value multiples

Target valuation multiples that are implied by key value drivers are a great way to better understand equity valuation and how the characteristics of a company affect value. The approach incorporates the same links with underlying value drivers on which DCF is based, but in a simplified way that is more intuitive than a full DCF model.

Our target multiple model can be used to estimate a deserved valuation multiple for a company, sector or index, to reverse engineer returns or growth implied by a current market valuation multiple and to derive a terminal value multiple in DCF analysis.

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