Recession Impact on Value: Known or Knowable?
The current economic recession has had a profound adverse impact on many businesses. So, in cases where we are asked to value businesses on a valuation date prior to the recession, how can we ignore what we know will happen? One of my favorite lecturers, Mel Abraham, answered this question in the BVResources newsletter this month by recalling an interaction he had with a California judge a few years ago. In that case, the business had lost its largest (60%) client six months after the valuation date, and Abraham had factored the risk of client loss into his discount rate and DCF calculations. When the judge argued that this was a subsequent event, Abraham agreed but countered, “The loss of the client was definitely a subsequent event, but the risk of losing the client was known and knowable as of the date of valuation.” Looking back to valuation dates, particularly in mid-2008, you cannot include loss of revenues or other damages that actually occurred as the result of this current economic downturn, he added. However, conditions known as of the valuation date (like heavy leverage, declining assets, or other high-risk indicators) could, should, and would have been known or knowable even prior to the stock market meltdown.