Business Valuation Blog | Understanding Buying / Selling a Company

Is a Discounted Cash Flow Business Valuation Right for Your Company?

Posted by Business Valuation Specialists LLC on Dec 7, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Discounted Cash Flow Analysis


When you're considering having a business appraisal completed, there are different options available. One option to consider is the discounted cash flow analysis, which is based on a company's income and growth by calculating the net present value that future cash flows will bring into a business.

How does a Discounted Cash Flow Analysis work in the Context of my Company’s Appraisal?

A discounted cash flow analysis looks at the expected future income, or cash flow, of a company over a reasonable time period. If your company is expected to have a particular percentage of growth based on a certain percentage of the business’ weighted average cost of capital (WACC) for a set period of time, the expected cash flow over that time period can be calculated. In essence, the estimated value of a company will rely on those forecast numbers to drive the appraisal. WACC is a recognized variable in every business based on the company’s debt and equity structure.

How Discounted Cash Flow Differs from Other Types of Valuation Methods

There are three approaches commonly used in business appraisals, (1) which involves strictly reviewing current assets; (2) a market driven approach; and (3) basing the appraisal on income. A discounted cash flow approach is based on an income assessment, however, taking it a step further, by not only including current income but projections about future income and the effect growth has on that figure. It often produces one of the higher value estimates for business valuations as it looks at what the company will do in the future, typically seen as a best-case scenario.

The Valuation Process Explained

The steps involved in this type of business appraisal include (1) Deciding how far out to forecast your valuation, (2) estimating the rate of revenue growth by calculating profits after taxes, working capital needs and estimated expenses, (3) calculating free cash flow based on previous figures, which can then be compared against current income statements and future operating costs based on the company's prior performance, and (4) calculating the discount rate.

Though it is acceptable to appraise your business off of past performance, doing so may not take into account potential changes to your company and future external economic effects. Some factors that help to better understand these are thinking about what the company's sector and its future development are as a whole, how well your own assets will hold up, and whether supply and demand pricing will remain the same.

There are different approaches to completing this analysis, and it is best left in the hands of an experienced appraiser to determine which one will best reflect future business performance.

In summary, a discounted cash flow valuation can seem overwhelming however, the results can provide benefits for your business in terms of projecting and recording market value today and in the years ahead. Working your way through this process will assist in discovering where your business’ future is headed.

Tags: business appraisal, discounted cash flow