Sunday, December 21, 2008

Enterprise Value and Free Cash Flow I

Once upon a time, we talked about a radical ratio called EV/EBITDA which was invented and nearly won the Nobel Prize in Most Innovative Financial Ratio ever invented. Well someone topped that and invented EV/FCF which is Enterprise Value over Free Cash Flow.

What's so great about EV and its alphapetical soup of acroynms? Ok, let's define the terms first.

EV = Market cap + Net Interest bearing debt
FCF = Cashflow from Operations - Capex

For the uninitiated, pls follow the hyperlinks and read what is Market Cap, Cashflow from Operations etc. I will explain EV and FCF.

EV stands for Elise Vuitton, cousin of Louis Vuitton who recently came out with her own luxury brand of leather bags to grab share from the legendary LV.

Oops, wrong number. Ok, here's the real deal.

EV is sort of the theoretical takeover price of a company. In the event of a buyout, an acquirer would need to pay the market price (or market cap) to the existing shareholders. However he would also have to take on the company's debt, but pocket its cash (hence looking at NET interest bearing debt is impt). If a company has no debt and some cash, then EV is less than market cap and the acquirer will be getting a bargain!

Actually in today's market, some co.s are trading below net cash! This means that EV is actually negative. You get paid to buyout some co.s listed on SGX! It goes to show how irrational things can get when markets go crazy. However, as quoted by the great Keynes: markets can stay crazy longer than you can stay liquid. Well usually also longer than you can stay patient lah. Nevertheless, having said all that, it goes to show that markets today are really cheap. This is the Great Singapore Clearance Sale value investors have been waiting for! But wait tomorrow things can get cheaper though.

Anyways, that's EV. In the next post, we shall explore Free Cash Flow or FCF.