Recession Proof Your Business with EVA

January 7th, 2009

EVATM stands for economic value added. It is an economic value-based model to measure performance. It is a metric that holds businesses accountable for the cost of capital used in the business and determines whether or not real value has been created for the owners. The calculation is determined by subtracting a charge for the full cost of capital which includes the equity and debt from the net operating profit after taxes. The method adjusts for accounting distortions such as intangibles and gets back to a cash basis or an economic model of profitability. This is important because it focuses on what is really critical in this economy in contrast to GAAP accounting-based measurement.

If EVATM is a better measurement of value creation, why is it better? The underlying principle of any business is that it must provide a profit that is great enough to justify the cost of capital used in the business. In other words, a business needs to create a surplus of profit after covering all of its costs. Until a business has earned an economic profit, it has not really generated a profit. When the net economic profit of the business exceeds its cost of capital employed, positive value is created. If net economic profit is zero or negative, then value is lost.

In its simplest sense, there are only three ways to increase economic value:
1. Increase operating efficiency
2. Only undertake investments that add value
3. Get your capital out of investment activities that don’t add value
By simplifying your focus, one develops a much better grasp of how value is being created or not created.

All too frequently managers are making decisions without considering the cost of capital in making their investment decision. They also think they are making a profit, when in fact; they are losing value by not covering the total cost of capital.

It is critical understand the reality of whether or not you are making an economic profit. If you can’t earn economic, cash based, profit, then why pursue the investment or continue the business?