In Purchase Price Allocation, Intangible Assets Matter

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Jeff Bezos was briefly the world’s richest man. The founder of Amazon achieved this title after Amazon stock jumped $15. However, the stock did end up dropping by 4% a day later, so Bill Gates was able to take back the title. Still, many analysts believe that Bezos will jump past Bill Gates in the upcoming weeks and months.

One of the reasons why Amazon stock surged was because of its recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market. Amazon is getting into the grocery industry as it purchased Whole Foods for more than $13 billion. Whole Foods Market was founded by John Mackey, and it has been an omnipresent fixture in affluent and hipster neighborhoods.  Now that Amazon owns the company, this could lead to major changes in the physical and online grocery industries.

Purchase Price Allocation and Intangible Assets


Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Market gives us the perfect opportunity to talk about purchase price allocation – one of the services offered by our valuation experts at Appraisal Economics. For accounting purposes, a company will hire a valuation services firm  to help them allocate, or assign value to, the various assets that were purchased. Purchase price allocation is also used to recognize goodwill.

For purchase price allocation, there are two types of assets that will be analyzed and valued: tangible and intangible assets. Tangible assets represent physical resources like plant, property, and  equipment. Regarding the Whole Foods acquisition, valuation experts would determine the fair market value of the real estate, furniture, fixtures, equipment, and other physical assets as part of their purchase price allocation.

However, this only represents part of the value of a company. Whole Foods Market did not have $13.4 billion worth of stores, equipment, and capital. So why did Amazon pay that much? Because Whole Foods Market is a household name that is recognized by most people in the United States. Brand is one of many assets that fall under the category of intangible assets, and they can significantly increase a company’s value. Here are some other intangible assets that a valuation company may be asked to assess:

  • Trademarks
  • Patents
  • Contracts
  • Customer lists
  • Royalty agreements
  • Licensing agreements
  • Power purchase agreements
  • Leases
  • Franchise agreements
  • Internet domains

When one company buys another, it will need to allocate value to the intangible assets, in order to record their purchase price on the opening balance sheet and comply with all financial reporting requirements.  You can certainly expect that Amazon will be hiring a valuation firm to allocate Whole Food’s intangible assets to remain in compliance.

If you are in need of purchase price allocation services, involving both tangible and intangible assets for accounting purposes, Appraisal Economics’ team includes financial analysts, engineers, and CPAs with years of experience completing these studies.


Determining the Value of Customer Relationship Assets in the Consumer Goods and Services Industry

young couple at financial planning consultation


In any consumer products and services business, maintaining strong customer relationships is important to long-term success. When consumer products and services businesses invest in developing, managing, and upgrading customer relationship assets, like customer lists, the information can be very valuable.

Think about it: you have a database of information from repeat customers about the types of purchases they make, how often they purchase things from you, and other details that could help you better market your products or services.

Although these customer lists often don’t require a valuation, there are times when they do, which is why we wanted to take a second and discuss how customer relationships are typically valued, and when you should inquire about our valuation services regarding your customer relationship assets.

When Is a Customer List an Intangible Asset Apart from Goodwill?


In order to accurately determine the value of customer lists, valuation experts will review the nature of the lists themselves and how much remaining economic life remains. Customer relationship assets have a finite life, and many decrease in value over time.

Factors that will affect the economic life of those assets include customer mortality, whether or not customer transactions are contractual in nature, the type of business, and if the business in question can offer an inherent advantage to its customers that its competitors cannot.

In some cases, economic life cannot be determined or the customer transactions are not separately identifiable. In these instances, those assets will be considered part of the goodwill.

When Is Valuation Necessary and How Is It Calculated?


The valuation of customer-related assets is necessary for allocating the purchase price in a business combination, certain transactions such as transfer pricing, and licensing, lending,  and litigation. There are three general approaches to valuation: cost, market, and income. The cost and market approaches are generally not applicable for customer-related assets for various reasons, and so the income approach is most commonly used by valuation experts.

Within the income approach, there are a number of valuation methods used to value customer-related assets, including the multi-period excess earnings method (MPEEM), the distributor method, the with-and-without method, and the cost savings method.  The MPEEM is often used when the customer-related assets are the primary income generating asset.  If another asset is the most important valuable asset, then typically that asset will be valued using the MPEEM and the customers and other supporting assets will be valued using an alternative method.

At Appraisal Economics, we specialize in various valuations services for the consumer products and services industry, including the valuation of customer relationship assets and goodwill impairment. We encourage you to contact us today to learn about our methodologies and success stories.

Are There Patents in the Food and Beverage Industry?

fried chicken wings with tomato sauce on wooden board


Have you ever been to a restaurant and the meal was so good that you thought they should get a patent for it? In truth, the food industry is comprised of intellectual property at every level. If you were to search the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you will find food patents of all kinds. They can include recipes, but there are some companies that actually don’t patent their recipes.

In this 2001 New York Times article, it explains that companies like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Kentucky Fried Chicken don’t patent their secret recipes and choose to just keep them under lock and key instead. The ultra-secrecy of the Colonel’s recipe for fried chicken is what makes it so valuable. When you file a patent, the patent is generally good for twenty years. Kentucky Fried Chicken has been around for more than sixty years, and the national chain has managed to keep the trade secret. However, many companies do decide to patent their recipes for the added protection if they want to prevent competitors from trying to figure out their secret.

Additionally, many food companies seek patents for packaging, new methods of processing their product, and novel applications.  Also, trademarks are highly defended as they can add immense value to a brand. Just think of your favorite food and beverage companies. Any logos, slogans, graphics, or words specific to that brand can receive trademark protection. There have been countless trademark disputes over the years involving food companies where one accused the other of stealing its likeness for profit. Trademarks create distinction in the marketplace, enabling customers to recognize a specific brand.

At Appraisal Economics, we have worked with many companies in the Food and Beverage Industry on valuation projects for various applications. For example, we have valued trademarks covering  mayonnaise,  cakes,  soups, and  peanut butter.  Our work has been done  for mergers and acquisitions, transfer pricing, and financial accounting purposes.

Our patent and trademark valuation process for the food and beverage industry is similar to our process for other industries.  We first discuss the  patents and  propriety technology with your company’s  management to get a clear picture of what makes it unique.  We then review the overall industry for similar technologies and analyze the future financial prospects of the patent. Finally, our team  conducts a financial analysis that includes the development of all assumptions and valuation models to determine the value of the patent. Our years of experience and quality of work are unmatched in the food and beverage industry.

So the next time you say that something is so good it should be patented, it very well might be.

How Do You Value a Business in a Buy-Sell Agreement?

Close up on hand writing on notepad with pen


If a company has multiple owners, it will most likely have some form of a buy-sell agreement in place. A buy-sell agreement is designed to protect the interests of an individual owner’s estate as well as the interests of the other owners and the company as a whole. It also ensures that the owners don’t have to work with heirs that don’t possess the same passion or knowledge of the company as an owner had.

A buy-sell agreement is essential as it prepares for the unexpected and safeguards against potential losses from a key owner dying by establishing the rules for ownership transition. Finally, a buy-sell agreement protects the estate of the deceased owner by ensuring the heirs get paid from the proceeds of the life insurance policy an amount stipulated per the agreement.

The Business Valuation Provision and Why Formula and Fixed Price Approaches Don’t Always Work


One of the key components of any good buy/sell agreement is having an accurate means of assessing fair market value. There are a number of approaches that can be taken. For one, the owners could agree on a formula valuation, like a multiple of earnings. However, formula valuations can be inaccurate if the formulas aren’t updated. For example, a formula that worked well for when the agreement was made might not fit as well ten or fifteen years down the road.

The fixed price approach, in which owners agree on a price per share that can be updated later on, similarly, suffers from the same problems. If a company does wish to do a fixed price approach on a buy/sell agreement, the price of the shares should be negotiated and updated yearly to ensure the valuation isn’t too high or too low.

Finally, another approach that could produce the most fair and accurate valuation is a defined process approach. This valuation is one that typically includes an independent appraisal from a third-party valuation service provider. An independent appraisal ensures the valuation is unbiased and reflects the current condition of the company.

A Note about Intellectual Property Valuation


At Appraisal Economics, we provide asset valuation services for a variety of different business transactions. If the owners of a company have decided to use a defined process approach where there is an independent appraisal, the company’s intangible assets, like intellectual property, will also need to be assessed to determine the fair market value of a company. Our intellectual property valuation team can provide accurate valuations of intellectual property, such as trademarks, copyrights or patents, to ensure a company’s next steps go smoothly when a key owner passes away.

How Do Valuation Firms Determine Trademark Value?

trademark sign and padlock


A good trademark can add inherent value to a company. When you consider the level of competition and number of choices out there, a distinguishing name, symbol, or phrase is essential to create brand awareness and produce a following. We can easily name a few brand names or symbols associated with everything from computers to cereal. The goal for businesses of all sizes is to develop strong trademarks, and valuing them correctly is paramount to determining overall value for a wide variety of applications, including mergers and acquisitions, venture funding, and taxation purposes.


Types of Trademarks


Fanciful Trademark: This is the most easily defendable. It is a made-up word, phrase, or symbol designed specifically for a brand, product, or service.


Arbitrary Trademark: This is where the word, phrase or symbol has a common meaning, but it is not associated with the type of products and services provided.


Suggestive Trademark: Word, phrase, and symbols that are not meant to directly describe a product or service but shine it in a particular light.


Descriptive Trademark: A word, phrase, or symbol that describes goods or services. It could potentially have a secondary meaning differentiating the business but not necessarily.


Generic Trademark: A word, phrase, or symbol that describes a product category or service. This is not defendable in court.


Valuation Approaches


Every valuation firm will have its own specific formula and set of processes for IP valuation. In general, there are three different valuation approaches. The first is the income approach, which takes the estimated cash flows from the trademark and deducts any risks or costs spent developing it. The second is the market approach. This takes a look at relevant transactions in the market, like buying/selling or licensing, to determine a value. The third is the cost approach. This consists of reviewing the historic cost of creating the trademark and the cost it would take to replace it.


When looking for a valuation firm, consider using a firm that has specialized experience in your industry and has shown relevant success in assessing trademark value. Appraisal Economics is proud to offer IP valuation services that are current with emerging market trends, and we have the skills, expertise, and resources to help your organization determine trademark value for your shareholders, management, and financiers. Given the importance of valuing intangible assets like trademarks accurately, choosing the best firm for your needs is crucial to success.


Contact us today to learn more about our IP valuation services.

What Goes into Patent Valuation?

man hand bulb in nature


A truly new concept for goods or services might be able to receive patent protection and could be worth billions of dollars. Many are worth much less.  Valuation experts provide patent valuation services to determine the values of individual patents and patent portfolios, and many other related services. Patents are a form of intellectual property (IP) and – for companies like Apple and Tesla – may even be the company’s primary assets.


In addition to affecting the value of the overall business, patent appraisers advise clients with such matters as buying and selling patents, determining appropriate royalty rates and terms for patent licensing, and assessing whether and to what extent patents may serve as collateral for lending purposes. The factors that influence the value of a patent depend on the type of patent, the industries in which it could be used, and other variables.  Some general things to consider:


What is the Status of the Patent Filing? The value depends on the stage of the patent filing, whether it was approved, is pending, or is an earlier stage.  Thorough research involves gaining a detailed understanding of a company’s IP holdings, including the patent application itself, any foreign patent applications that relate to the invention, litigation history, etc.


How Impactful is the Patent? Some patents are revolutionary; others are slight modifications on existing ideas and inventions that may affect an industry more marginally. It is the job of the valuation team to assess the potential of the patent. They will look at the industry and other patents and inventions to estimate the effect of the subject patent on the marketplace.


How Defensible is the Claim? A well­-constructed patent claim may be more valuable if it likely to withstand potential challenges from competitors.  Although the service of a patent attorney is not required to file a patent, the guidance of experienced professionals may result in a stronger claim that is more defensible, which is worth more to a potential buyer or licensee.


How Will the Patent Generate Cash Flow? There are many different ways that a company can monetize a patent.  An owner can research, develop, manufacture, distribute, and retail a product that relies on the patent, essentially building an integrated business around the patents.  Alternatively, it could license the use of the patent to others for royalties, which can be structured in various ways (up­-front, annual, as a percent of sales or profits, etc.). A valuation firm should consider who will ultimately use the patent and how it will be used.


Clearly, although the concept of how firms generate profits using patents is fairly straightforward, determining a value for a specific patent can be quite complex and requires experienced appraisers. Appraisal Economics has deep experience working with clients around the world in practically all industries, and we have a staff that consists of engineers as well as appraisers. Contact us today to learn more about our patent valuation services.

What Is Portfolio Valuation and Why Are Firms Turning to Third Party Valuation Services?


Word Cloud "Leverage"

Private equity funds, hedge funds, and other institutional asset managers are increasingly engaging independent valuation experts to perform various portfolio valuation services rather than conducting the portfolio valuations internally.  A portfolio valuation is done to determine and report alternative investments’ performance, which is often required for financial reporting and tax compliance, and also affects the investment manager’s compensation.

Determining the fair market value of illiquid assets is notoriously difficult because – by definition – there isn’t a market to determine the price, unlike many stocks, bonds, and other traditional investments.  Additionally, there are various laws, regulations, and policies governing valuations to protect investors against abuse.  The IRS has valuation requirements to prevent individuals and organizations from underreporting their incomes to pay less in taxes.

Why Independent Portfolio Valuation Makes a Lot of Sense for Illiquid Assets


Many private equity funds, pension funds, hedge funds and other institutional investors do their portfolio valuation in‑house, but this can foster the perception of a conflict of interest.  Investors of those funds who may be considering putting in new capital want transparency.  They want to know that there is no bias in the valuation and that values and performance are being reported accurately.  Even if there is no actual conflict of interest or bias, investment managers often prefer independent valuations to demonstrate the lack of bias – especially for capital calls and interfund transfers.

Increased regulations make independent portfolio valuation a smarter decision for illiquid assets.  Dodd-Frank requires hedge fund advisors to now register with the SEC.  This is intended to prevent another financial crisis like the one in 2008‑2009.  European regulators are doing the same thing in response to the global financial crisis.

Finally, independent portfolio valuation is often preferred by the auditors who ensure that the financials, which rely on the portfolio valuations, conform to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).   Auditors have been put under increasing pressure to ensure the integrity of the financial statements, making third-party portfolio valuation desirable as audits can be more efficient when the analysis is prepared by a firm that is experienced in performing and documenting the work.

Appraisal Economics can tailor portfolio valuation services to meet a client’s individual needs.  We have worked with a number of different firms on assignments that included preferred and common equity, variable‑rate municipal and convertible corporate bonds, limited partnership interests in private equity and hedge funds, and tangible and intangible assets.  We can provide our results in several different forms, and we have a proven methodology and experience with these illiquid assets to ensure an accurate and efficient process.  Contact our valuation team at +1 201 265 3333 to learn more about our services.


The Top 4 Worst Mergers and Acquisitions

Newspaper with headline "Merger!"When considering a merger or acquisition, there will always be a certain amount of speculation involved. However, with enough research into markets, trends, and revenue streams, and the use of valuation services, companies can take a great deal of the guesswork out of any venture and make a sound investment.

The alternative is not pretty, and can cost your company thousands, millions, or even billions of dollars, or perhaps bankrupt you. Here are some of the worst-case scenarios that Appraisal Economics seeks to help companies avoid.

1.  AOL & Time Warner – No such list is complete without mentioning the colossal failure of the AOL-Time Warner merger. The timing could not have been worse:  The deal went through for just over $160 billion in 2000, but the bubble burst not long afterward and, when combined with a decline in the popularity of dial-up and clashing corporate ideals, spelled disaster for the newly merged company. The two companies have since gone their separate ways.

2.  Quaker Oats & Snapple – This is the sort of story that particularly emphasizes the role that research and planning have to play in M&A. First and foremost, Quaker paid $1.7 billion for Snapple, an amount that was deemed to be about $1 billion too high by market experts. Secondly, they failed to recognize that the market for their new line of products was significantly different from what they had anticipated. They were hoping to tempt larger retailers like supermarkets and franchise restaurants with Snapple products, when the largest market was actually small retailers like convenience stores. This gross miscalculation led to Quaker selling the company for $300 million after only a little more than two years.

3.  eBay & Skype – When eBay bought Skype in 2005 for $2.6 billion, they thought that adding a video chat option to the service would enhance communications between buyers and sellers. As it happened, eBay users were pretty happy just keeping things simple, and did not see a particular need for extras like Skype. When the option never caught on as intended, eBay sold Skype in 2009 for a loss of $700 million.

4.  New York Central & Pennsylvania Railroad – This 1968 train wreck of a merger was intended to help both companies reduce costs in a changing industry landscape that was starting to heavily favor air and highway travel. However, the newly-formed Penn Central could not turn a profit and just two years after the initial deal, the company announced that it was filing for bankruptcy. Several factors potentially influenced this outcome aside from the changing market, including regulations preventing customer-facing rate adjustments and corporate cultures that had been at odds when they were rivals.

These are just some of the best examples of why an analysis of current markets and their trajectories is not only ideal, but necessary before any merger or acquisition. Appraisal Economics can do a thorough review of the companies involved in a potential deal and help determine the appropriate sale or purchase price. Contact us today!

Determine Whether to Lease a New Stadium

When sports team owners are considering the possibility of moving stadiums, there are a lot of different factors to take into account. In many cases, teams will be staying in the same general area in order to preserve their loyal fan base, but some have moved further afield in search of less expensive locations and rents. But how can owners determine ahead of time whether such a move will be financially prudent? One of the most trusted and accurate methods is to employ an independent valuation firm to provide documented support for moving to a new stadium.

crowded stadium

Calculation methods

What does a firm like Appraisal Economics use to determine the worth of a potential stadium lease? Three different approaches, as it turns out, which, when used in tandem, offer a more complete picture of the financial risks and benefits of everything from leasing a new stadium to acquiring a player. The Income Approach is used most often with assets that make a direct and immediate profit; the Market Approach is used for marketable tangible assets and some specific intangibles; the Cost Approach covers assets that cannot be assigned an obvious price point. These methods can each be employed based on the specific asset being valued so that the resulting conclusions are more precise.

While some comparisons can be made using statistics from recent stadium transactions in other cities, a lot of the analysis will be made based on local data, as population and disposable income levels in different areas can vary widely. Our company will do a thorough examination of additional income that the new venue and its team would generate, including concessions, corporate suites, tickets, and parking, as well as naming rights and signage income. Other advantages that a new stadium brings include higher-profile players and naming rights. These would be balanced out by any additional expenditures to get a clear picture of the true value of a new lease.

A Case Study

A new stadium was under construction and scheduled to be completed by the start of the Major League Baseball season. The team had been dissatisfied with the existing venue for a number of years as it was a multi-purpose venue shared by a local NFL football team and lacked the intimate setting that characterized most of the more recently constructed ballparks. Moreover, from an economic standpoint, the old lease agreement provided rights to many of the revenue streams derived from baseball activities such as concessions, signage rights and suite rentals, to the stadium owner instead of the team.

The cost of the new stadium was underwritten by the state and legislation was approved for the construction of a new specific-use ballpark. As groundbreaking and construction began, the original cost estimate continued to be modified and based on revised engineering and other analyses, an additional $50 million was added to the stadium cost. The team’s portion was about 20 percent of the total, with public funding picking up the remainder. Additional scope changes included a Skybox Club premium priced area, a special children’s area, and closed-circuit television, to enhance the overall baseball fan experience at the ballpark. The team expected to garner revenue from certain activities in the new stadium for which it did not have any such rights under the old stadium.

We estimated the additional operating income as the difference between the actual operating income in the existing stadium and that projected in the new stadium. We computed total revenue and total cash operating expenses (excluding player salaries, as they are discretionary) in the two venues, then capitalized this difference into a value. Finally, we deducted the team’s share of stadium financing costs, equal to the sum of the team’s actual debt financing associated with the new stadium plus the present value of unfunded stadium costs, to conclude a value of the new stadium rights. A positive value less any lease rental expense indicates the lease value for the new stadium.

For more information on our sports team valuations, contact us today at Appraisal Economics!

The Importance of Solvency Opinions in Mergers and Acquisitions

When your company is contemplating either a merger or a business acquisition, there are many factors to consider; however, the first and foremost concern will be whether or not the move will benefit your company, now and in the future. You’ll want to ensure that any action taken is monetarily justifiable and that you have an expert opinion to support your decision, so that the banks loaning you the money feel that they are making a worthwhile, secure investment.

men shaking hands next to statistics

Solvency opinions can help you to achieve this. A solvency opinion evaluates a business’s assets, potential sources of revenue and free cash flow, and existing and projected liabilities. This analysis is often performed by a third-party valuation provider to ensure that the merged company will have the financial resources to sustain its operations in the future. This includes the company’s ability to service indebtedness transferred as part of the merger or acquisition, as well as additional indebtedness incurred to finance the proposed transaction.

Finding a Reliable Solvency Opinion Provider

Often, these assessments are requested prior to a merger or acquisition by the company in question on behalf of its financing bank, as the bank needs reliable information in order to make an educated decision. This makes the importance of finding a company with a record of accuracy paramount.

If the merged company ultimately fails, it will put a lot of different people in jeopardy: banks providing financing run the risk of not being repaid; the company itself may reach bankruptcy and its shareholders may be at risk; and any third-party provider of the solvency may be liable for its inaccuracy. A qualified firm will be able to look at the facts and figures of the case and make an accurate financial prediction as to the solvency of a company. In addition, this valuation can also be admitted in court as evidence of solvency – something that goes a long way in bankruptcy cases in which your company has a priority position for any repayment.

If your company needs a solvency opinion, Appraisal Economics can assist. We use an in-depth, highly refined process to measure the financial tests for solvency, analyzing your assets, liabilities, and capital adequacy and those of the company you are merging with or acquiring. This will yield information that can be used to determine the potential profitability of a venture for the use of your financial backers.