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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Build-Up Method

Build-Up Method

The Build-Up Method is a widely-recognized method of determining the after-tax net cash flow discount rate, which in turn yields the capitalization rate. The figures used in the Build-Up Method are derived from various sources. This method is called a “build-up” method because it is the sum of risks associated with various classes of assets. It is based on the principle that investors would require a greater return on classes of assets that are more risky. The first element of a Build-Up capitalization rate is the risk-free rate, which is the rate of return for long-term government bonds. Investors who buy large-cap equity stocks, which are inherently more risky than long-term government bonds, require a greater return, so the next element of the Build-Up method is the equity risk premium. In determining a company’s value, the long-horizon equity risk premium is used because the Company’s life is assumed to be infinite. The sum of the risk-free rate and the equity risk premium yields the long-term average market rate of return on large public company stocks.
Similarly, investors who invest in small cap stocks, which are riskier than blue-chip stocks, require a greater return, called the “size premium.” Size premium data is generally available from two sources: Morningstar's (formerly Ibbotson & Associates') Stocks, Bonds, Bills & Inflation and Duff & Phelps' Risk Premium Report.
By adding the first three elements of a Build-Up discount rate, we can determine the rate of return that investors would require on their investments in small public company stocks. These three elements of the Build-Up discount rate are known collectively as the “systematic risks.”
In addition to systematic risks, the discount rate must include “unsystematic risks,” which fall into two categories. One of those categories is the “industry risk premium.” Morningstar’s yearbooks contain empirical data to quantify the risks associated with various industries, grouped by SIC industry code.
The other category of unsystematic risk is referred to as “specific company risk.” Historically, no published data has been available to quantify specific company risks. However as of late 2006, new ground-breaking research has been able to quantify, or isolate, this risk for publicly-traded stocks through the use of Total Beta calculations. P. Butler and K. Pinkerton have outlined a procedure, known as the Butler Pinkerton Model (BPM), using a modified Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) to calculate the company specific risk premium. The model uses an equality between the standard CAPM which relies on the total beta on one side of the equation; and the firm's beta, size premium and company specific risk premium on the other. The equality is then solved for the company specific risk premium as the only unknown. The BPM is a relatively new concept and is gaining acceptance in the business valuation community. (BPM is a trademarked name for a model sold by a private for profit company. The model is a simplistic mathematical formula, easily replicated without the purchase of the model from the vendor. Therefore, attributing the model to BPM along with claims that BPM is "new ground breaking research" and "gaining acceptance" appears to be advertising hyperbole.)
It is important to understand why this capitalization rate for small, privately-held companies is significantly higher than the return that an investor might expect to receive from other common types of investments, such as money market accounts, mutual funds, or even real estate. Those investments involve substantially lower levels of risk than an investment in a closely-held company. Depository accounts are insured by the federal government (up to certain limits); mutual funds are composed of publicly-traded stocks, for which risk can be substantially minimized through portfolio diversification.
Closely-held companies, on the other hand, frequently fail for a variety of reasons too numerous to name. Examples of the risk can be witnessed in the storefronts on every Main Street in America. There are no federal guarantees. The risk of investing in a private company cannot be reduced through diversification, and most businesses do not own the type of hard assets that can ensure capital appreciation over time. This is why investors demand a much higher return on their investment in closely-held businesses; such investments are inherently much more risky. (This paragraph is biased, presuming that by the mere fact that a company is closely held, it is prone towards failure.)



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