Business Valuation Blog | Understanding Buying / Selling a Company

How are valuation multiples calculated?

Posted by Business Valuation Specialists LLC on Dec 27, 2017 12:37:00 PM

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When you're looking at a business' overall financial standing, one term that is often tossed around during a business appraisal is valuation multiples. Multiples of what? How is the number calculated? What does it mean to your company's value on the market? Though it can seem like a complex concept, it actually breaks down fairly simply. Here's a quick overview of what valuation multiples are, how they're calculated and how they can impact a company's overall value.

How are valuation multiples calculated and how do they impact your bottom line?

What are they?

Much like multiplication, a valuation multiple represents a specific business value multiplied by a particular figure. That value is typically related to income in the form of discretionary earnings, gross revenue or market conditions. The figure by which it is multiplied is the valuation multiple. Depending on the company involved, this multiple can be anywhere from a small single digit to pushing three digits. 

How are they calculated?

Multiples represent a certain expected amount of income per year. If a company has a multiple of 3x, it means that a buyer is willing to pay the equivalent of three times the expected income to the seller. This means the company's income will pay back the investor over the course of three years, if it continues to perform as expected. A multiple of 5x means the company is valued at five times the projected annual income and that a buyer will see the investment returned over a five year period. However, if a company is actively growing, much higher multiples may be seen.

How do they affect your company's financial situation?

But what impact can these multiples have on your company's financial situation? A startup tech company may only have revenue of $50,000 the first year of operation and $200,000 the second year. If it's purchased at this point, where should the multiple fall? If it's expected to grow to a $20 million annual concern within five years, even paying a 10x multiple on the current $200,000 annual income would only equal a value of $2 million. In this case, a 50x multiple may be considered acceptable.

This not only applies to buying and selling a company, but also to the process of securing financing. Will the tech company, as it stands, be able to reach that level of growth? If it needs additional capital to be able to pull off the expansions that are needed, the company needs to be able to prove to the bank that the company will be able to pay back those funds in good time. An appraisal from a certified valuation specialist uses standardized methodologies to document the company's ability to repay the loan that stand up to strong scrutiny in financial circles, making it easier to secure the financing.

By having a good idea of how valuation multiples are calculated, you're in a better position to improve those numbers and pay or receive a fair price for your company, whether it's for a business loan, a company sale or a business purchase. Knowing where your business stands allows you to improve areas that are weak and push areas that are strong even further to help ensure a successful venture. By working with a certified business appraisal specialist, you're ensuring that the multiples and figures you work from are accurate and represent a solid calculation of your company's overall value.

Topics: Valuation Multiples, Business Valuation