Valuation: Make room for uncertainty amidst all the accuracy

BVWireIssue #45-4
June 28, 2006

Hearty congratulations to the Institute of Business Appraisers (IBA) for a ground-breaking annual meeting in St. Louis last week. The new IBA format of two concurrent sessions—one running a valuation appraisal from start-to-finish, the second presenting advanced topics and practice expansion areas—allows for more intimate and interesting discussions than you might otherwise receive at other “big tent” BV events.

Case in point: During his session on deriving market values, Ray Miles, IBA founder and a “great grandfather” of the profession (according to one attendee) reminded all appraisers that their work is a “search for the truth—but we may not know it when we find it.” For instance, you can’t really get from public company data to accurate private company values, Miles said. “After tax-free rates, discounts and premia—which all come out of our heads and databases, you can only hope to be within 20%-25% of the ‘real’ market value.” An informal poll of conference attendees confirmed that this range is the norm; as a further reminder, Miles quoted that other great founder of the profession, Shannon Pratt, as saying that “it is not unusual for the high-end valuation range to be 50% or more above the low-end.”

“Don’t get too concerned with the uncertainty you face,” Miles comments. The truth can be elusive, no matter what methodology you use. In the end, “it’s simply a question of your best judgment,” and the more questionable judgment may be the one that insists on certainty.

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