Excess Earnings Method: Higher Cap Rate?

June 25, 2009 | Business Valuation, Family Law News, Legal Perspective

Icon for author Brian Vertz Brian Vertz

BVWire recently published a follow-up to its teleconference, Valuing Dental Practices, by raising a question about business valuation using the excess earnings method (also known as Treasury Method).

Where do you get your cap rates under an excess earnings method? It’s a question that came up at the recent BVR teleconference, Valuing Dental Practices, featuring BV experts James Andersen, Ron Seigneur, and Stephen Persichetti, a practicing dentist and professor of dental practice management. In answer to the query, one panelist explained, “When you’re using excess earnings, it’s appraiser’s judgment. I’ve seen reports that use Ibbotson or D&P. But your cap rate has to be larger, and sometimes significantly higher, as much as 40% and 60%.”

The BVWire™put the question to Seigneur, who cautioned, “There is no holy grail for developing the capitalization rate under the excess earnings method.” That said, he offered the following insights as a “reality check” for BV experts:

When breaking the economic returns of an enterprise out between the returns on tangible assets and the returns on the intangible assets, it is commonly accepted theory that the returns on the tangible asset base is less risky, and therefore, require a lower economic return to justify the risks associated with the tangible assets. On the other hand, the rates of return required for each class of assets (be they tangible, like cash, inventory, fixed assets, etc., or intangible, such as the reputation of the business, the customer base, etc.) must collectively reconcile to the overall economic return (e.g. capitalization rate) on the overall, all in, benefit stream of the entity.

For example:

If the enterprise is assumed to justify a 30% overall capitalization rate, the returns on the various categories of tangible assets will likely each be below this 30% combined return. The returns required to capture the risks of the various intangibles will likely each be above 30%, with the overall weighted or blended rates tying back to the 30% overall risk adjusted rate associated with the entity take as a whole.

I’m not sure I know the answer to this one, so I’m throwing it out there for comments.

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