Hardly anyone puts a valuation number on a PowerPoint slide in an M&A negotiation or an investor pitch. In publicly quoted companies there are legal constraints, but most of all: a buyer is unlikely to believe a number put up buy the seller. So how do you as a seller get the buyer to move in the right direction using a presentation?

The answer is: teach and spoon-feed the right assumptions. Someone on the buy-side is going to construct an Excel valuation model of your business. Put yourself in her shoes and guide her through the process.

What components of value are there? The business units of today. The future growth of these existing businesses, but remind her to include growth options beyond that as well.

Valuation models are forward looking, financial data looks backward. So it is important to teach the buy side how to model your business going forward without giving the answer. Instead suggest how the sales of your business works (it is all about number of stores and sales per square meter). Suggest some non-financial growth rates, or give an indication of your store opening program. Explain how the cost structure works. We can support 50 more stores without adding cost to our head quarters.

Give the sell-side a quick refresh about the theory of calculating discount rates. What should be taken into account. What ranges of values do you see?

The best way to prepare such a presentation is actually to design a valuation model yourself without inside information. It teaches you the process the other side will go through.

In short: spoon-feeding the sell-side a valuation model is much more powerful than arguing over the point estimate of the outcome.

Note: the above is written with a relatively mature company in mind that has reasonably steady and predictable cashflows. Early-stage venture valuations are a different subject matter.

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