The Differences Between Conclusion of Value and Calculation of Value

The Differences Between Conclusion of Value and Calculation of ValueWhen a business is looking for a valuation, it needs to decide whether to use the calculation of value approach versus the conclusion of value option.

The conclusion of value calculation is a more rigorous and resource-intensive calculation of value. Both approaches are similarly dependable, and despite the calculation of value’s less in-depth approach, business owners can still benefit from this knowledge for their short- and long-term projection needs. However, there are some distinctions between the two approaches. 

Calculation of Value

This method can be conducted annually or once every 24 months. It’s often applied for internal needs, such as the owner looking to retire, selling the business or for critical strategy development. Calculation of value also can be used for planning purposes, such as the settlement stage of a divorce. However, since it’s not an opinion of value, it’s not seen during litigation. 

Calculation of value aims to get the company’s fair market value via comparable companies. It is an approximate value, calculated through either a single figure or a range.

Conclusion of Value

This is more comprehensive and has stricter standards that can meet those required by the IRS, lawsuits, the Department of Labor, potential business buyers, M&A activity, etc. Conclusion of value can take as long as six weeks to complete due to stricter reporting standards.  

It’s up to the discretion of the analyst, and the results can be a single figure or a range. There are three accepted forms of valuation: market, income and asset-based, necessitating additional time. These three approaches are defined further below.

Market-Based Valuation

This looks at charted data of transaction values to calculate a business’ financial worth. This works similar to how those in the real estate industry determine comparable business’ worth, which is based on substantially similar conditions.

Regardless of the type of business, it looks at financial metrics such as the client service model, business location, profitability, percentage of periodic revenue projections, overall revenue, growth rates, mean account sizes, etc.  

Income-Based Valuation

This type of analysis establishes fair value by looking at historical, present and projected future cash flows. It also looks at reasonable projected returns on future investments.  

Valuing investments via the discounted cash flow method (DCF) involves looking at after-tax, discretionary, and/or operating cash flow types. This approach is often utilized with businesses that have no to limited earning growth projections.

The Capitalization of Earnings/Cash Flow Method

This begins with determining the cash flow for a discrete period. Then, the cash flow is divided by the capitalization rate over the same period. The capitalization rate is determined by taking a property’s net operating income and dividing it by the present market value. Looking through a real estate lens, it’s interpreted as the percentage of return an investor is likely to obtain from an investment. It’s often calculated for mature/established businesses that grow at a reasonable/predictable rate.

Excess Earnings Valuation Methodology

This can be defined as looking at how much tangible and intangible assets earn for a company over a discrete period of time. 

Asset-Based Valuation

This values a company by looking at the net value of assets within a company or the post-liability deduction of the fair market value of the company’s total assets. It’s one way to determine how much a company would cost to re-create. 

While each business has its own needs for valuation, be it for internal or external audiences, understanding how to accomplish them and when to use each type is extremely helpful for overall operations.

Liquidation Value Versus Going-Concern Value

Liquidation Value Versus Going-Concern ValueWhether it’s a company firing on all cylinders or a company on the verge of liquidation, determining correct valuations is not a cut-and-dry process. Understanding the importance of going-concern values and liquidation values is essential when determining a business’ worth.

Quantifying Going-Concern Value

When it comes to defining this type of value, it factors in the likelihood of a business operating indefinitely with continued profitability. With a company’s demonstrated ability to maintain profitability comes inherent value, reducing the likelihood of a business going bankrupt. 

In contrast to a business’ liquidation value basis, which might only be $20 million due to unsold goods, real property and associated physical assets, the going-concern value might be worth $120 million. The difference and increase in value are due to the additional equity embedded in its competitive position in its industry, its projected future cash flows, goodwill, etc. Goodwill consists of the company’s name, its intellectual property (IP) patent, trademarks, customer loyalty, etc.

When one company looks to acquire another, the company bases its valuation on the calculated going-concern value of the acquiree. When formulating its offer to purchase the other, it will factor in its future profitability, intangible assets, customer loyalty, and goodwill.

Liquidation Value Defined

Liquidation value is determined by establishing the net value of a company’s physical or tangible assets if they were to go out of business. It’s important to distinguish that intangible assets (intellectual property, brand significance, and goodwill) are not included in liquidation sales. Assets are often sold at a loss because the seller must turn the assets into cash quickly. Generally, liquidation valuation is higher than salvage value but less than book value. Though, to contrast with a traditional, non-acquisition sale, intangible assets are considered part of the sale/offer price.

One important concept for determining liquidation value is the recovery rate. Cash is naturally the highest level, usually at 100 percent. From there, assets such as accounts receivable (AR), inventory, property, plant, and equipment (PPE) have progressively lower recovery values. Determining these values will accordingly govern the success of a liquidation sale.

Comparing Values: Market vs. Book vs. Liquidation vs. Salvage

It’s important to highlight the hierarchy of values to illustrate why these types of valuations differ so much. Market value is the highest, though market conditions can temporarily lower them below normal valuations. Book value is the second highest, also known as historical, and it is what’s listed on the company’s balance sheet. Book values must be looked at through the lens of history and relative to inflation, etc. Salvage value is the second lowest valuation, which is also referred to as scrap value, or when an item is “at the end of its useful life.” Liquidation is the lowest value because tangible assets must be sold quickly, lessening the chance to find a buyer at a fair price.

How Liquidation Works

Liquidation is the difference between a company’s tangible asset value and liabilities. For example:

  1. Liabilities of a business are $750,000

  2. Balance sheet assets show a book value of $1.5 million

  3. Salvage value of assets is $250,000

  4. Auction sale estimate value is $1.2 million, or 80 percent

Liquidation Value = Auction Value – Liabilities ($1.2 million – $750,000 = $450,000)

Many variables must be studied to effectively determine a company’s value, regardless of what spectrum is being evaluated. Employees and consultants who have a better grasp of these methods will provide everyone involved with a fair assessment.

Working Capital and the Role it Plays in Your Business’ Success

Working Capital, what is Working CapitalThe accounting term working capital is essential knowledge for all business owners. Basically, it is the ability of a business to meet its ongoing obligations. Learning about some of the different aspects of working capital is vital for any successful business owner.

Net operating working capital (NOWC) is the gap between a business’ current assets (accounts receivable, inventories, cash, though excluding marketable securities) and its non-interest-bearing liabilities (which are financial obligations a business must meet, except those not subject to interest payments).

This calculation looks at a business’ cash flow availability and determines available current assets able to be liquidated inside a calendar year.

The formula is as follows:

NOWC = Current Assets – Non-Interest-Bearing Liabilities

Operating Working Capital (OWC)

OWC measures a business’ current assets and calculates how much the company’s day-to-day operations cost. This includes meeting supplier invoices, turning accounts receivable (AR) into cash, obtaining inventory, and making sales on inventory and/or services.

The higher the OWC, the easier it is for a business to pay supplier invoices, leverage pre-pay or early pay discounts, maintain healthy inventory stocks, and offer customers favorable terms to grow sales further.

OWC is calculated as follows:

OWC = Current Assets – Non-Operating Current Assets

It’s important to remember that cash isn’t included because this asset is considered a non-operating asset. While cash isn’t immediately connected to operations, it can be re-considered an operating asset once supplies and related items are obtained with it.

Operating Working Capital Considerations

The OWC calculation determines how proficient the business is with its finances. Since it immediately reveals the amount of funds a business has, the larger the resulting figure, the lower the funds a company has available to complete its rotation.

Companies can lower their results by increasing the rate of inventory turnover, increasing the percentage of customer payment collection, and working with vendors for better provider terms. As a business improves this metric, it can free up funds to reduce its loans, pay dividends, and/or build out new or existing revenue streams. 

Net Working Capital (NWC)

Also referred to as working capital, NWC is defined as the difference between total current assets held by a business and its liabilities. It shows a business’ level of liquidity. This looks at how capable a company is in generating profits, chiefly when it comes to near-term financial obligations (paying wages, electric bills, leases, etc.). It also tells a business if and how much it’s able to re-invest to grow profits and increase product or service capabilities.

It’s calculated as follows:

NWC = Total Current Assets – Total Current Liabilities

Total Current Assets = Cash Assets + AR + Inventory  

Current liabilities are short-term financial obligations due within 12 months, including accounts payable (AP) and accrued expenses.


Positive net working capital implies a business can meet current financial obligations and invest in other operational needs. If the NWC is too high, the business isn’t using its short-term assets efficiently. Since some current assets can’t be converted to cash easily, NWC isn’t always the best measure of liquidity. It can similarly signify underused resources.

While there are unique considerations for every business, the more business owners and management are versed in these concepts, the more likely they are to increase their chances of surviving and thriving.

Taking a Closer Look at Trial Balances

What are Trial Balances? What is a Trial Balance?A trial balance is an accounting tool that helps businesses determine if the double entry accounting system has any mathematical errors. Once the trial balance is worked through, and the total debits and total credits equal each other, we know there are no mathematical errors – but that doesn’t mean it is error free. It is important to determine how it is constructed and the considerations for each step in the process.

Raw Trial Balance

The first is the unadjusted trial balance. This looks at all the double entry bookkeeping journal entries, which records the business’ day-to-day transactions. When beginning to prepare for the adjusted trial balance, the eventual adjusted trial balance will have three column headers: 1. Account 2. Debit 3. Credit.

It should list all sub-ledger account balance totals, the account description and number, along with the final debit/credit balance. It also should document the accounting period, including the starting and final dates.

The next step is to address balancing for each sub-ledger. Sub-ledgers, such as Cash, Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable, are balanced from the sub-ledgers’ “T” account; the resulting credit or debit balance must be noted. Depending on the resulting credit or debit balance, it must be put in the right “Debit” or “Credit” column. If there is a mathematical error, it means the previous steps in the accounting cycle might have errors in them.

Adjusted Trial Balance

Along with the trial balance having the credits and debits entered from each respective sub-ledger, the first thing to check is if the credit and debit balances line up. Then, the next step is to determine if other mistakes may exist. Examples of non-mathematical mistakes include:

  • Original entry errors or double entry transactions that contain mistakes on both ends.
  • Omission errors or errors that result from not being put into the accounting ledger.
  • An error of reversal is an error with double-entry transactions that has the correct numbers but transposes credits and debits.
  • A principal error is a transaction that correctly records the transaction, the figures, the right side (debit v. credit), but attributes it to the incorrect account.

Along with these potential mistakes, a business can identify and take corrective action when reviewing its transactions on specific accounts and when aggregating sub-ledgers into their trial balance. Examples of corrective action include tax adjustments, such as ensuring any tax deductions that were missed are then added.

If business transactions were made on a personal credit card, they need to be adjusted accordingly. When it comes to accrual considerations, if a payment is owed but not made during an accounting period, it must be adjusted to reflect the correct accounting period. Another consideration is for payments received, which is often referred to as a deferral. Past due payments that are applied to a later accounting period but were for a previous accounting period must be adjusted accordingly.


The last step is to prepare the post-closing trial balance. Once the closing entries have been finished, it can help a company use it as a starting point when they need to do it again for the next accounting cycle.

While trial balances are only a part of the bookkeeping and accounting process, taking steps to reduce errors can make the accounting process a more insightful business function.

Contingent Liability Defined

Contingent Liability, What is Contingent LiabilityAs the name implies, a contingent liability for a business does not always happen and depends on how the future unfolds. When it comes to a business analyzing a contingent liability, it focuses on the probability of the business realizing it, the time frame within which the liability might occur, and the accuracy of the contingent liability’s estimated amount.

When to Record and Notify of Contingent Liabilities

Projected contingent liabilities are typically recorded if the contingent liability will materialize and can be reasonably projected with a high level of accuracy. Examples include a company making good on a large-scale product warranty, a business facing a government probe or ongoing litigation, or an organization having to satisfy a guarantee on debt.

When recording contingent liabilities, businesses must adhere to three accounting principles from generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS):

1. The Full Disclosure Principle

This requires consequential and pertinent financial details and essentials to be documented thoroughly in financial statements. Relevant fiscal circumstances that have a reasonable likelihood to negatively impact a business’s future net profitability, cash flow, and assets highlight the importance of why a company’s solvency is the primary focus of this tenant.

2. The Materiality Principle

This focuses on the necessity of financial statement disclosure. Preparers of the financial statements must determine if including financial information (or not) on the business’s financial statements would give interested parties substantive information to help them determine whether or not to engage with the company.

3. The Prudence Principle

This last principle focuses on ensuring income and assets are reported accurately, along with requiring liabilities and expenses not to be reported too low. When applying this principle through the lens of contingent liabilities, if there’s more than a 50 percent chance of the event occurring, it and the associated expense are documented. Recording the liability gives a fair reporting of the expenses and obligations.

Naturally, if there’s a strong likelihood of reducing a business’s ability to sustain profitability, it also can reduce investor interest in buying part (or all) of the company. Similarly, while being transparent by disclosing contingent liabilities, a business might not be able to secure lending if the lender doesn’t have faith that the debt will be repaid according to the loan’s terms.

Contingent liabilities that are expected to occur/settle in the short term are usually more impactful. Conversely, contingent liabilities that are anticipated to be settled over the long term are less impactful because there’s a smaller chance of the event actually materializing.

Another consideration when it comes to generally accepted accounting principles is that there are three categories of contingent liabilities, which are all based on the probability of it occurring.

  1. If the likelihood of the liability arising is more than 50 percent and the loss can be projected with relative certainty, this is recorded as an expense on the income statement and a liability on the balance sheet. This also can be referred to as a probable contingent liability that can be reasonably estimated (and reflected on financial statements).
  2. If the contingency meets one, but not both, of the criteria of a high probability contingency, the contingent liability is required to be documented in the footnotes of the financial statements. This also can be referenced by stating that the liability is as likely to occur as not.
  3. If a contingent liability does not meet either of the first two conditions, the rest fall into this category. Since the probability of a cost arising due to these liabilities is highly unlikely, and while reporting these in financial statements is not required, companies sometimes do disclose them.

With contingent liabilities being naturally uncertain, these approaches give business’ some level of certainty to evaluate and make reasonable judgment calls to manage internal and external expectations.