Scandinavian Working Papers in Business Administration

SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration,
Stockholm School of Economics

No 2011:3: Firm Valuation with Operating Leases

L. Peter Jennergren ()
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L. Peter Jennergren: Dept. of Business Administration, Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Operating leases are quite important in some industries. There are two possible errors that should be avoided when valuing a company with operating leases. In the first place, one should not neglect the implied lease debt. Such neglect distorts the calculation of free cash flow, required rate of return on the equity under partial debt financing, WACC, and residual equity value in the discounted cash flow model. In the second place, lease expense and implied lease debt should not be forecasted as constant, historical fractions of sales revenue in the (non-steady state) explicit forecast period. This paper outlines an approximate procedure for handling operating leases in valuation models, in particular the discounted cash flow model. This procedure avoids the two possible errors that were mentioned and is shown to result in equity values that are very close to the known, exact values in a stylized example problem. Naive valuation (that makes both errors) results in equity values that can be quite far away from those same known, exact values.

Keywords: Operating leases; valuation; discounted cash flow; adjusted present value

20 pages, First version: March 14, 2011. Revised: May 30, 2011. Earlier revisions: May 18, 2011.

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