The valuation accuracy of multiples in mergers and acquisitions, and their association with firm misvaluation

Stubbs, Michael Bradley (2012) The valuation accuracy of multiples in mergers and acquisitions, and their association with firm misvaluation. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This study explores the accuracy and valuation implications of the application of a comprehensive list of equity multiples in the takeover context. Motivating the study is the prevalent use of equity multiples in practice, the observed long-run underperformance of acquirers following takeovers, and the scarcity of multiplesbased research in the merger and acquisition setting. In exploring the application of equity multiples in this context three research questions are addressed: (1) how accurate are equity multiples (RQ1); which equity multiples are more accurate in valuing the firm (RQ2); and which equity multiples are associated with greater misvaluation of the firm (RQ3).

Following a comprehensive review of the extant multiples-based literature it is hypothesised that the accuracy of multiples in estimating stock market prices in the takeover context will rank as follows (from best to worst): (1) forecasted earnings multiples, (2) multiples closer to bottom line earnings, (3) multiples based on Net Cash Flow from Operations (NCFO) and trading revenue. The relative inaccuracies in multiples are expected to flow through to equity misvaluation (as measured by the ratio of estimated market capitalisation to residual income value, or P/V).

Accordingly, it is hypothesised that greater overvaluation will be exhibited for multiples based on Trading Revenue, NCFO, Book Value (BV) and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) versus multiples based on bottom line earnings; and that multiples based on Intrinsic Value will display the least overvaluation.

The hypotheses are tested using a sample of 147 acquirers and 129 targets involved in Australian takeover transactions announced between 1990 and 2005. The results show that first, the majority of computed multiples examined exhibit valuation errors within 30 percent of stock market values. Second, and consistent with expectations, the results provide support for the superiority of multiples based on forecasted earnings in valuing targets and acquirers engaged in takeover transactions. Although a gradual improvement in estimating stock market values is not entirely evident when moving down the Income Statement, historical earnings multiples perform better than multiples based on Trading Revenue or NCFO. Third, while multiples based on forecasted earnings have the highest valuation accuracy they, along with Trading Revenue multiples for targets, produce the most overvalued valuations for acquirers and targets. Consistent with predictions, greater overvaluation is exhibited for multiples based on Trading Revenue for targets, and NCFO and EBITDA for both acquirers and targets. Finally, as expected, multiples based Intrinsic Value (along with BV) are associated with the least overvaluation.

Given the widespread usage of valuation multiples in takeover contexts these findings offer a unique insight into their relative effectiveness. Importantly, the findings add to the growing body of valuation accuracy literature, especially within Australia, and should assist market participants to better understand the relative accuracy and misvaluation consequences of various equity multiples used in takeover documentation and assist them in subsequent investment decision making.

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ID Code: 64455
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Gallery, Gerry
Keywords: takeovers, mergers and acquisitions, multiples, takeover, misvaluation, acquirer and target valuation, valuation accuracy, residual income, valuation
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 13 Nov 2013 05:17
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2015 22:19

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