Reply To: My business have been valued at 3.5 times EBIT. In light of massive losses In March, April, May and most likely June, can these losses be ‘normalised’ i.e removed in a a valuation? Or is that just a discussion to be had with a purchaser. Also, for a service based business being bought my another service business, what is the spectrum or cash vs workout that is considered normal?

Hi there,
This is a particularly tricky one given the current circumstances. Valuation is an “art not a science” at the best of times and each transaction will always have unique characteristics depending on the situation, business being sold and the purchaser.
I would say that both multiple and future maintainable earnings (FME) will be re-litigated in the current environment… and is more about the future projected earnings rather than past earnings and your ability to clearly demonstrate the believability of going from substantial losses over covid-19 into profit at L2, L1 and the next few years ahead in times of negative GDP, and lowered incomes globally.
It may well be that any purchaser will significantly discount the multiple (and earnings) to reflect increased risk and uncertainty and it may well be better to delay a sale if the discount is too steep and some ‘new normal’ returns.
Other things that may impact the equity value is increased debt loading and changes to normal working capital levels.
In terms of cash v workout, I’d approach this based on what are the unique factors the purchaser needs to ensure the business transitions well (especially in this environment)… are you a “key person” risk and your time is valuable to transition customers/suppliers under new ownership, do you need to show the purchaser how the business runs (if a small business or buyer is small), or is there a steep sales/profit forecast increase, in which an earnout might be a better mechanism to reduce downside risk for the buyer, but preserve upside value for you… There are many ways to get value for the seller, either a retainer, earnout or performance incentive if you stay in the role for a longer period…
Hope that helps.