If you asked my Grandpa what the rate of return on his investments is, he would probably scratch his head and say, “Huh?” The only return that he knows (even though he doesn’t necessarily understand it) is the .5% that he earns on his savings account with the local bank. If you asked my Dad the same question, he might say that he earns a few percentage points per year. His investments are being allocated in a more conservative fashion as he nears retirement. In my case, most of my retirement investments are in equities. My investments have much greater risks than my Dad and Grandpa’s, but they also present opportunities for much greater returns.
Out of my family’s three generations of investments, the “safe” savings account investment of my Grandpa (which could be debated in light of the wave of bank failures over the past year), has the lowest levels of both risk and return. My Dad’s investments have a higher level of risk, but a correspondingly higher rate of return. Finally, my investments have the highest rate of return out of the group, but also the most risk that the return will not be realized (leaving me with less money than I invested).
The concept of risk vs. return is important in the valuation of any business. The lower the risk associated with an investment, the lower the required returns. In contrast, the riskier that an investment is, the higher the return it should provide to an investor. The value of an ownership interest in a company typically moves opposite of the level of risk and required return, as summarized below:
High Risk = High Required Returns = Lower Company Value
Low Risk = Low Required Returns = Higher Company Value
One of the abilities that a valuation analyst brings to the table is his or her ability to determine an appropriate rate of return for an investment in a company. As discussed above, once the rate of return is determined (as a function of the level of risk), it plays a key role in concluding on the value of a business. Keeping in mind the general relationship between risk and return can help anyone better understand the value of a business, regardless of their level of valuation experience.
Looking for business valuation assistance in Cleveland or Akron? Contract our Business Valuation Services group at 440-449-6800 for more information.