How can you value your business?

There are various different ways to value a business. Each method will give a different figure from floor to ceiling values. This blog outlines a selection of valuation methods and in what circumstances they are most useful.

Asset basis

This is the value of the net assets of the business and is seen to be a ‘floor’ value. It is quick and easy to calculate however there are some drawbacks.
If your business uses historical costing as opposed to revaluation, historical depreciated costs do not necessarily reflect what the assets are really worth in their market. Also, this method doesn’t take into account the value of any intangible assets such as brands.

Dividend basis

This basis is useful for valuing minority shareholdings. The value of one share is calculated as the present value of future dividends being generated by the existing management team.
A cost of equity and estimated growth rate are required for the calculation so it is not as simple as the asset basis. Growth can be estimated based on historical dividend patterns or by calculating profit retention divided by reinvestment.

Cash flow basis

The cash flow method is more useful for majority shareholdings and will give a ‘ceiling’ value. The value calculated is the discounted value of the future free cash flows. Two different methods can be applied; free cash flows or free cash flows to equity.
Free cash flows is the after-tax operating (pre-interest) cash flows less net investments in assets. Whereas free cash flows to equity is the free cash flows less net interest paid.
The discounted value is to calculate what the future cash is worth in today’s terms.

Earnings basis

This method creates a market value using a price/earnings (P/E) ratio multiplied by the business’ earnings. Again, this method is useful for valuing majority shareholdings.
However, P/E ratios are only available for quoted companies. If you business is unquoted you would need to use a ‘proxy’ ratio i.e. an industry average or a ratio from a similar business to yours which is quoted. If you choose to do this, the ratio should be discounted as appropriate to reflect the fact that your business does not have the advantages of being on the stock market.