Precedent transaction valuation analysis

Precedent transactions analysis valuationis a relative valuation method based on precedent transactions and key ratios/multiples within a sector. Precedent transaction analysis is a form of comparative asset (usually stock) analysis that is used with a company considered for takeover. The idea is that when your team has control of the outfit, they can implement changes that greatly improve the value of the asset.

A multiple on its own bears little information; it is meaningful only when compared to multiples of other companies. A good comparable company has two main characteristics:

1) The comparable company has future cash flow forecasts similar to the company you are interested in

2) The risks associated with the comparable are similar to the risks of the company you are interested in

In theory, if these characteristics are present and the performance measure is proportional to value, the use of comparables can provide a more accurate measure of value than any DCF model. It will provide a more accurate measure since multiples incorporate contemporaneous market predictions of cash flows and discount rates. In practice, comparable companies will never be perfect matches. Cash flows and risks are bound to differ, products are rarely perfect substitutes, managers have different management styles, capital structures differ between firms and many other factors affect cash flows and associated risk levels.

To be meaningful, it is important that the performance measure is proportional to value. Valuing a company solely based on peer group multiples is problematic. One has to find a group of companies with similar growth prospects, profitability and level of risk. Thus, multiple valuations are to be seen more as a complement to the DCF (APV) and the LBO valuations than an actual assessment of the value.

Precedent transaction analysis

It is common that practitioners use multiples to find the value of the company they are interested in. When you want to analyze a company using a multiple, you should find a multiple that relates the enterprise value to a performance measure. Common performance measures are enterprise-value-to earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortization EV/EBITDA, EV/EBITA and earnings.

1. Select the universe of comparable acquisitions
2. Locate the necessary deal-related financial information (Commonly used ratios are EV/EBITDA and EV/SALES)
3. Spread key statistics, ratios and transaction multiples
4. Benchmark the comparable companies
5. Determine valuation and output

Recent M&A transactions are a more accurate reflection of the values buyers are currently willing to pay than acquisitions that happened in the distant past. This is because market fundamentals are constantly evolving and business cycles are changing.

You compare to similar takeovers. When done e someone very familiar with the operations of such business this can be the most accurate form of analysis. As such it is called an “art”, rather than cookbook formula crunching idiocy.

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