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Do Rising Interest Rates Lead to Lower Business Valuations?


When interest rates rise, it generally leads to an increase in the discount rate used in business valuation. The discount rate is directly influenced by prevailing interest rates in the market, as it reflects the required rate of return expected by investors.

Here is how rising interest rates impact the discount rate and business valuation:


Increased opportunity cost: When interest rates rise, the opportunity cost of investing capital also increases. Investors can earn higher returns from low-risk investments such as government bonds or savings accounts. As a result, they demand a higher rate of return from riskier investments, including business ventures. Consequently, the discount rate, which incorporates this required rate of return, is adjusted upward to reflect the increased opportunity cost.


Higher risk perception: Rising interest rates can indicate tighter credit policy and a potentially more challenging economic environment. This may raise concerns about a business' risk profile, as higher interest rates can lead to increased borrowing costs, reduced consumer spending, and slower economic growth. Investors, therefore, demand a higher return to compensate for the perceived increase in business risk. The discount rate is adjusted upward to reflect this higher risk perception.


Impact on cash flows: Higher interest rates can affect future cash flows, especially if the business has significant debt or relies on borrowing for expansion or operational needs. Increased borrowing costs can reduce profitability and cash flow projections, impacting the valuation of the business. As the discount rate incorporates these expected cash flows, a rise in interest rates can lead to a higher discount rate and a potentially lower valuation.

It's important to note that the impact of rising interest rates on the discount rate and business valuation can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the business, industry dynamics, and the overall economic conditions. Different valuation models and methodologies may also have different sensitivities to interest rate changes. Therefore, a comprehensive analysis considering all relevant factors is necessary to accurately assess the effect on business valuation. Seacap is here to help you with that analysis.


TLDR: When interest rates rise, the discount rate used in business valuations typically increases to account for the higher opportunity cost and risk perception. This adjustment reflects investors' expectations of a greater return to compensate for the increased risk associated with the investment. Consequently, higher interest rates can potentially lead to a lower valuation of the business, but a more thorough analysis is needed.


At Seacap, we help business owners, and their advisors, successfully navigate mergers and acquisitions, business valuations, and a variety of other strategic situations to maximize value when the owner is ready for the next phase of the business’ lifecycle.

Please reach out when you are ready for a confidential conversation.


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