According to analysis prepared by Marlin & Associates, the boutique investment bank, for the second quarter 2014, valuations ranged from 1.9x expected 2014 revenue for Forrester Research, the global industry research and advisory firm, to 6.0x expected 2014 revenue for Moody’s Corporation, the credit rating agency. EBITDA valuations results ranged from 10.2x expected 2014 results for Informa PLC, an UK-based information company, to 16.4x 2014 for IHS Inc., the Colorado-based industry research provider. Given that we are half way through 2014, Marlin believes that multiples of expected 2014 results are a more revealing indicator than are multiples of 2013 actuals.
Top line revenue growth – a key driver of value for the publicly-traded bellwethers ranged from 20% over 2013 for IHS to 2 percent for Informa and Forrester Research. EBITDA margins averaged around 30%, led by Moody’s 45%. Average Valuation multiples for the second quarter did not change much relative to the prior quarter but increased relative to a year ago.
Marlin & Associates has prepared these special valuation benchmarks for the investment research industry in collaboration with Integrity Research Associates. The benchmarks monitor the valuations for publicly traded firms that offer research-related services. Marlin & Associates advises owners and managers of U.S. and international companies that provide software, data, and related services and has a particular expertise in advising owners and managers of firms that provide business intelligence, marketing intelligence, fintech and healthcare IT. For more information please visit www.MarlinLLC.com.
Since the majority of investment research businesses are either privately held or vertically integrated within broker-dealers, selecting publicly traded bellwethers for investment research is a challenge. All the firms selected offer research services, but in many cases research may be a minority component of overall business.
Note that the valuation multiple of a large publicly traded firm that is a leader in its niche may not be a valid comparable for assessing the value of smaller firms or those that are not market leaders. As a result, valuations for smaller privately held research firms may differ markedly from those implied by these multiples.
 Marlin & Associates Securities LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Marlin & Associates Holding LLC, is a broker-dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is a FINRA/SIPC member firm (www.finra.org). For more see www.MarlinLLC.com. Nothing contained herein should be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell any security. The information herein is not fully comprehensive, nor does it consider specific objectives, circumstances or needs of individual recipients.