Published on: **Mar 3, 2016**

- 1. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases Christopher Warren Young Assistant Professor Rutgers University - School of Business 1 Summer Walk Circle Oak Ridge, NJ 07438 347-522-0480 Chris.young@rutgers.edu
- 2. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 2 Abstract Foregone interest is an important measure in calculating commercial damages in cases where there are historical lost profit claims. The calculation of foregone interest can, and in many cases, is greater than the actual lost profits calculated. This article shows that experts need to move away from accrual based lost profits when calculating foregone interest and focus on cash based lost profits. The article goes further and suggests that a more comprehensive view of economic damages in lost profits cases should consider damages to the enterprise value of the company being analyzed. Introduction In commercial damage cases, herein defined as lost profits cases, the court allows a shareholder or company (Plaintiff) which experienced past lost profits to recoup the value of, and the interest (foregone interest) on the profits had the Plaintiff been able to invest the lost profits in some capacity, during the period of loss. Although most state courts agree on the concept of providing some form of remuneration for foregone interest in hopes of making the Plaintiffs whole, they often disagree on the rate of interest applied. The state based rate of interest is typically statutory in nature, and applied to the yearly lost profits in a simple or compounded manner. Similarly the federal court system allows foregone interest, but unlike the state court system, delegates the development and application of the foregone interest rate to the attorneys and their respective economic experts. There is published literature and frequent debates’ concerning the development of the foregone interest rate, particularly in and with relation to its treatment in federal cases. It appears that much of the debate stems from the misunderstanding of the rationale for applying interest.
- 3. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 3 For instance, is interest applied to make the Plaintiff whole, as previously mentioned, or is it to dis-incentivize the Defendant from acting in a similar manner in the future. Experts who believe that the role of the court is to make the Plaintiff whole tend to look toward the loss of opportunities of the Plaintiff. The latter look toward the borrowing costs of the Defendant; almost as if the Defendant was borrowing the value of losses experienced by the Plaintiff. Various groups make arguments for using the return on the Plaintiff’s capital (Keir and Keir, 1983), Plaintiff’s cost of borrowing (Keir and Keir, 1983), Defendant’s cost of borrowing1, return on a market index2, risk free rate (Fischer & Romaine, 1990), cost-of-carry pricing model (Escher and Krueger, 2003), prime rate3, and the list goes on. In addition to the selection of the methodology, there is debate as to period of historical loss in which a rate should be applied, and or should the expert provide a fixed or floating rate. The Problem There appears to a be a gap in the literature with respect to the numeric application of calculated foregone interest to companies with lost profits but where no dividends are paid, and where all profits are reinvested in the company. If all of the profits are reinvested in a company, and the company is experiencing an increasing growth rate when compared to a company who distributes all of its profits, the standard method to calculate foregone interest must be modified, or rejected entirely. Companies which invest most of their profits are typically classified as high growth where many times investors are seeking a long term increase in the underlying value of the investment. Unfortunately, many Experts fail to recognize and or suggest that there is need to analyze the underlying changes in the value of the company being harmed. Because of these 1 See Amoco Cadiz, 954 F.2d at 1331-32. 2 See Gonsalves v. Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. 2002 Delaware Chancery.Lexis 105. 3 See Amoco Cadiz,954 F.2d at 1331-32.
- 4. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 4 nuances, the application of foregone interest in federal commercial damage cases, and the application of foregone interest to state commercial damage cases are more complex than what many finance, accountant and economic professionals experts suppose. In this paper, I limit the commercial damage claims to cases where lost profits are the measure. It is my experience, while working as a defense economist, that many Plaintiff experts apply foregone interest by simply taking the lost profits, also referred to as lost before tax income, in each of the historical years of claim and then apply a simple or compounded foregone interest rate to the applicable year. While federal cases allow the expert to determine the foregone interest rate, state cases rely on statutory state created rates. In both cases, the expert then typically calculates the value of the foregone interest loss for each year based on a simple or compounded interest calculation. The problem that arises from this methodology rests on the assumptions that must be made regarding what percentage, if any, of a company’s profits would have been distributed to shareholders in each of the historical years of claim. For instance, if a company has a positive before tax income yet does not distribute the income to the shareholders in a cash dividend, in one or a combination of the historical years of claim, should that company or Plaintiff be awarded interest on the lost profit in such a year? From another perspective, if the Plaintiff were not receiving cash dividends and the dividends were used to further capitalize and grow the company during these historical years of claim, should the Plaintiff be entitled to foregone interest for these past years? If the purpose of the foregone interest is to put the Plaintiff in the same financial position had the damages not occurred, then the answer to both questions would be a simple - no.
- 5. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 5 This paper will present an applied methodology to assist the forensic economist when applying foregone interest to lost profits cases. This application will be of particular interest to the forensic economist who, through the course of a year, performs economic analysis and writes damage reports pursuant to lost profits and or business interruption cases. I will show that in many situations, the expert is over estimating the foregone interest loss and in other situations the expert is not calculating enough. Financial and Economic Theory In order to understand and address the proper application of foregone interest, it is important to present the basic financial and economic theory of investing in equity related securities. First, financial and economic theory assumes that investors are rational and will allocate investment resources to the investment that provides them the most opportunity for gain, when factoring in various types of risk, such as equity risk, company size risk, industry risk, company specific risk, geographical risk, political risk, systemic risk and other related risk factors. The endless range of equity investments are typically valued based on the ability of the company to provide periodic cash flows, an increase in asset value, or a combination of the two. A company that is expected to provide increasing cash flows or profits typically has a greater value than a company where the cash flows or the profits are less. Assume there are two identical companies, Company A and Company B; and over three years Company A invests all of its yearly profits in product development, cost efficiencies and future growth opportunities and Company B distributes all of its yearly profits to its shareholders, and re-invests nothing. At the end of the three year period, Company A should, if successful in its strategy and operations, have a more valuable company with increasing sales,
- 6. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 6 new differentiated products, and/or greater levels of efficiency and greater levels of profits, when compared to Company B. In this scenario, the investor/shareholder in Company A is rationalizing that all of the profits that were reinvested in the Company will increase the value of the Company when compared to the investor/shareholder in Company B who received all of its investment return in yearly cash dividends. Assumedly, based on the rational actor principal, the former is expecting an increase in the value of the investment (capital gain) and the latter is expecting a continued level of cash dividends. Table 1 below, presents the three year forecasted financial operations of Company A and Table 2 presents the forecasted financial operations of Company B. For Company A, I assume that the Company will grow at 25.0% per year, mainly because the Company invests all of its yearly profits in future growth and provides no dividends to the shareholders, whereas Company B has a growth rate of 2.0%, an approximation for changes in real prices. I assume that each company maintains the same 22.0% pre-tax income (profits) over the period of time. In Company A’s operations, there are no cash dividends provided to the shareholders but a substantial increase in sales, and an absolute increase in profits ($83.9 million), where in Company B, there is limited sales growth, but $67.3 million paid out in yearly dividends.
- 7. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 7 Table 1: Company A Summary Financial Statements (millions). Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total Sales $100.0 $125.0 $156.3 $381.3 Expenses 78.0 97.5 121.9 297.4 Pre Tax Income (Profits) 22.0 27.5 34.4 83.9 Cash Dividends -- -- -- -- Dividend Payout Ratio 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% Table 2: Company B Summary Financial Statements (millions) Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total Sales $100.0 $102.0 $104.0 $306.0 Expenses 78.0 79.6 81.2 238.7 Pre Tax Income (Profits) 22.0 22.4 22.9 67.33 Cash Dividends 22.0 22.4 22.9 67.33 Cash Dividend Yield 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
- 8. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 8 Now assume that the above were not realized due an alleged misappropriation of trade secrets by a competitor, which caused harm to Companies A and B. I assume that the misappropriation occurred on the last day of year zero (not shown), and that the damages began on day 1, year 1 and end on the last day of year 3. Table 3 below presents Company A’s impaired revenue growth at 12.5%, or half of its revenue growth prior to the misappropriation, and continues to achieve a pre-tax income margin of 22.0%. I assume that Company A mitigates its lost revenue and profits by decreasing its expenses. I also assume that Company A will have a higher growth rate than Company B, for the simple reason that Company A is reinvesting all of its profits. Company B shows no revenue growth, but continues to achieve a pre-tax income margin of 22.0%. Like Company A, I assume that the Company will mitigate its damages by decreasing its expenses. Tables 3 and 4 (below) provide the actual results of Company A and Company B.
- 9. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 9 Table 3: Company A Actual Financial Statements (millions) Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total Sales $95.0 $106.9 $120.2 $322.1 Expenses 74.1 83.4 93.8 251.3 Pre Tax Income (Profits) 20.9 23.5 26.5 70.9 Cash Dividends -- -- -- -- Dividend Payout Ratio -- -- -- -- Table 4: Company B Actual Financial Statements (millions) Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total Sales $95.0 $95.0 $95.0 $285.0 Expenses 74.1 74.1 74.1 222.3 Pre Tax Income (Profits) 20.9 20.9 20.9 62.7 Cash Dividends 20.9 20.9 20.90 62.7 Dividend Payout Ratio 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
- 10. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 10 Tables 5 and 6 below present the resulting lost profits and cash dividends to Company A and Company B. Assuming the same before-tax net income margin of 22.0% for both companies, Company A has a greater profit as a result of higher projected revenue. As shown, Company A has $13.0 in lost profits with no dividends paid, and Company B has $4.6 in lost profits and lost dividends. Also note that the loss in revenue for Company A is much greater than the loss to Company B, for the simple reason that Company A would have been plowing back its pre-tax income each year into new profitable initiatives.
- 11. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 11 Table 5: Company A Calculated Damages (millions) Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total Sales $5.00 $18.1 $36.0 $59.1 Expenses 3.9 14.1 28.1 46.1 Pre Tax Income (Profits) 1.1 4.0 8.0 13.0 Cash Dividends -- -- -- -- Table 6: Company B Calculated Damages (millions) Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total Sales $5.0 $7.0 $9.0 $21.0 Expenses 3.9 5.5 7.1 16.4 Pre Tax Income (Profits) 1.1 1.5 2.0 4.6 Cash Dividends 1.1 1.5 2.0 4.6
- 12. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 12 In both of these scenarios, we have to ask ourselves the very serious and often overlooked question, “what have the shareholders lost?” It is probably easier to look toward Company B first. The shareholders of Company B have lost $4.6 million dollars in cash dividends. In many lost profit cases, the expert would simply apply the foregone interest rate to the lost dividends, and provide the sum of the lost interest to the court. This would not be entirely wrong. The shareholders of Company A, on the other hand, have no loss in dividends since their projections assume 100.0% reinvestment of profits. The major question here relates to what should the foregone interest rate be applied to. Should it be applied to the lost profits, even though there were no projected dividends? As I will explain later, the simple answer is that foregone interest should not be applied to lost profits, when in fact the company has no dividends. Unfortunately, in many cases the expert calculates the loss to the company based upon lost profits and spends little to no time analyzing the cash dividend or the impact on the financial statements. When preparing lost profits analysis based on accrued profits exclusively and overlooking cash based dividends, the expert finds confronts calculations which are misleading at best, and possibly an egregious financial oversight at worst, where the latter has the potential to call into the question the entire expert report. Accrual based profits and lost interest Pre-allegation In the case of Company A, had the expert applied foregone interest to the accrued based profits and if he did not use actual cash dividends as the loss, he would be putting the Plaintiff in a situation better than he would have been, had it not been for the misappropriation.
- 13. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 13 To present the inequities in the scenarios, I provide the equity value (the total amount paid for the investment or the total amount invested to start the company) of the investment in year 0, and compare it to the value at the end of year three. Assume each company was purchased in year 0 at one (1) times 12-month forward sales, or $100.0 million. Now assume at the end of the third year, Company A would have sales of $156.25, with an anticipated growth rate of 25.0% (slightly better than the plowback), and a value of $195.31 ($156.25 x 1.25 x 1), and Company B would have sales of $104.04, with a growth rate of 2.0%, and value of $106.12 ($104.04 x 1.02 x 1). Companies A and B, would have a gain on the investment of 95.31% and 6.12%, respectively. Company A’s equity value in year 3 would be greater than Company B’s equity value by $89.19 million. Though, after we add in Company B’s dividends of $67.33, the $89.19 additional gain to Company A is reduced to $21.86 million ($89.17-$67.33). The higher value of Company A represents a return on the reinvested profits. Preliminary Post-allegations for Company B After the alleged misappropriation, the values of Companies A and B decrease to $135.26 (120.23 x 1.25 x 1.0) and $96.90 (95 x 1.02 x 1.0) million dollars, respectively. The value of Company A decreases by $60.05 million and the value of Company B decreases by $11.1 million. Based on the above scenario, it would be prudent to apply foregone interest to the lost profits of Company B because the company was distributing all of its profits. Assume a foregone interest rate of 10.0%, applied in a compounded interest calculation to the lost dividends of Company B. Table 7 provides the lost profits and foregone interest. The foregone interest to Company B is calculated to be $5.0 million (assuming the end of year method).
- 14. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 14 Table 7: Lost dividends (D) and foregone interest to Company B Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total Lost Dividends (D) $1.1 $1.5 $2.0 $4.6 Foregone Interest [=D x (1+10%)^time- D] 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.4 Total Loss 1.3 1.7 2.0 5.0
- 15. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 15 4.3 Preliminary Post-allegations for Company A As suggested earlier, many experts would simply apply foregone interest to Company A, based on lost profits while not considering the impact of reinvested cash flows. Should this error occur the shareholders in Company A would have the following loss of profits and foregone interest. Table 8 provides the lost profits and foregone interest to Company A, assuming a 10.0% foregone interest rate. The loss of profits and foregone interest would be $13.6 million in absolute loss, or an $8.6 million greater loss than Company B. So, where is the problem that concerns us?
- 16. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 16 Table 8: Lost profits (P) and foregone interest to Company A (millions) Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total Lost Profits (P) $1.1 $4.0 $8.0 $13.0 Foregone Interest [=P x (1+10%)^time- D] 0.2 0.4 0.0 0.6 Total Loss 1.3 4.4 8.0 13.6
- 17. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 17 Explained above, Company A should have an equity value much greater than Company B, as a result of plowing back dividends. In this scenario, Company A should not receive the additional $0.6 million in foregone interest since the increase in the equity value of the Company represents a return on unpaid dividends. In this case, the return exceeds foregone interest. [A note of caution: considering the scenario presented here is only three years, the difference in interest between the two companies will not be very large. However, for many lost profits cases where the case has been in the system for many years, the foregone interest can be larger than the actual damage award.] Comparing the total losses, including equity loss Assuming the expert includes foregone interest on lost profits for Company A, and assuming a loss of equity value for both companies, I calculate the total loss. Table 9 provides a summary of total damages should the expert misapply foregone interest to lost profits. Although I have yet to discuss how to treat the foregone interest on the loss of equity value, the following table shows that the overall loss between the two companies is drastically different with the Company A having a total loss of value of $73.7 million, and Company B having a total loss of $16.1 million. The major difference in the losses is attributable to differences in equity value, with Company A gaining most of its increase in value from the reinvested dividends and ensuring higher internal growth rate. Because the interest on the investment in Company A is already included in the pre-allegation profit forecast, applying foregone interest to the accrued profits would be providing a benefit to the Plaintiff, which would put them in a position that is better than what they would have earned, had it not been for the alleged misappropriation.
- 18. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 18 Table 9: Total Loss with the miscalculation of foregone interest for Company A (millions) Component of Loss Company A Company B Loss of Dividends $4.6 Loss of Profits 13.0 Foregone Interest 0.6 0.4 Loss pre-Equity Value 13.6 5.0 Loss of Equity Value 60.1 11.1 Total Loss $73.7 $16.1
- 19. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 19 In this case, the expert should consider foregoing the calculation of lost interest and the lost profits and subsequently turn to the loss of equity value when analyzing a company with no dividends. When the role of the court is to make the Plaintiff whole and when the Plaintiff’s company provides no dividends, in theory, the Plaintiff should receive the loss of equity value. Let us analyze the change in equity value for both Company A and B, over the three year period of loss. Again, assuming that the value methodology used to calculate the value for each company is the market approach, with a 1.0 times forward price-to-sales metric. [Note: I use this method for the simplicity of it, but in reality the choice of methodology will be complex.] Table 10 provides a summary of the value in each of the three years.
- 20. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 20 Table 10: Equity Value – Three Year Look (millions) Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Company A Value (before damage) $125.0 $156.3 $206.3 Company A Value (after damage) 107.0 120.2 135.3 Difference in Value 18.1 36.0 60.1 Company B Value (before damage) $102.0 $104.00 $106.0 Company B Value (after damage) 95.0 95.0 95.0 Difference in Value 7.0 9.0 11.1
- 21. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 21 Toward a Comprehensive Calculation It is important to consider the loss in equity value in each of historical years of claim. Assume that the shareholder in Company A were to have sold her company on the last day in Year 1, the value she would have received would have been $18.1 million higher than what she actually received. Following this through, the shareholder would have had the opportunity to invest the lost proceeds in a bank or elsewhere for two years. If the investor were to sell in year 2, she would have had the opportunity to invest the $36.0 million loss of value in the bank or elsewhere for 1 year. Unfortunately, due to the allegations, the value of the loss in the company may never be recaptured, and the Plaintiff should be entitled to receive compensation on the loss of equity value. How do we calculate the loss? Considering the pre-allegation growth rate already includes reinvested dividends and also includes a higher internal rate of return on its investment, and when factoring in the difference between the pre-allegation value and the post- allegation value, the Plaintiff is, in essence receiving the full value of its equity loss, including lost interest at the end of year 3. The total equity loss to Company A is $60.1 million and should not be further modified. Now, let us consider Company B. As explained earlier, the expert would not be wrong in including foregone interest on the lost dividends for Company B. But what about the loss in equity value? With relation to Company B, the shareholder would have an equity value of approximately $11.1 million dollars less than they would have, had it not been for the allegations. Similar to Company A, the value of the $11.1 million loss is already adjusted because the company received the dividends, and the increase in value for the company is mainly attributed to the meager 2.0% yearly growth rate. The following Table summarizes the proper treatment for the misappropriation of trade secrets for Company A and Company B.
- 22. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 22 Table 11: Comprehensive Treatment of Loss (millions) Component of Loss Company A Company B Loss of Dividends $4.6 Loss of Profits Foregone Interest 0.4 Loss pre-Equity Value 5.0 Loss of Equity Value 60.1 11.1 Total Loss $60.1 $16.1
- 23. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 23 Summary and Further Considerations Many experts apply foregone interest in a rather expedited manner, and because of this fail to properly calculate and or recognize many of the shortcomings in their analysis. This paper highlights a few problems with the application of foregone interest to lost profits cases. First, the paper explains that when experts use accrual based (GAAP based) lost profits and do not use cash based dividends, they will in many time respects fail to properly calculate lost profits. As shown here, assuming lost accrued profits as the variable of loss, the expert would of calculated total damages (not factoring in equity value loss) of $13.6 million and $5.0 million, for Company A and B, respectively. However, I have attempted to show that Company A has no lost profits because of no distributed dividends and therefore no lost interest. Similarly, I have attempted to show that both companies are harmed by only factoring in lost profits and foregone interest, for the simple reason that many times a misappropriation of trade secrets or tort related violations may cause irreparable harm to the value of the underlying equity investment, and so the court should look toward a more comprehensive value approach. The expert should consider analyzing, understanding and communicating to the court, the possible damage to the underlying equity investment, plus the possible damage in lost dividends. By not providing such detail, both the Plaintiff and Defendant are not receiving the comprehensive view of damages – thus further accentuating the damages stemming from the misappropriation. In sum, when an expert analyzes a company with no dividends, he or she should forego the calculation of lost interest and turn to the calculation of lost equity value. When analyzing a company that pays dividends, the expert should consider lost profits, lost interest on the profits as well as potential damage in the underlying equity investment.
- 24. Foregone Interest and the Enterprise Value Relationship in Lost Profit Cases 24 References Escher, Susan., Kurt Krueger, 2003. “The Cost of Carry and Prejudgment Interest.” Litigation Economics Review, Volume 6, Number 1:12-16. John C. Keir & Robin C. Keir, “Opportunity Cost: A Measure of Prejudgment Interest”, 39 BUS. LAW. 129 (1983). Robert L. Losey et al., Prejudgment Interest: The Long and the Short of It, 15 J. Forensic Econ. 57 (2002). Michael S. Knoll, A Primer on Prejudgment Interest, 75 TEX. L. REV. 293 (1996). Gordon, Myron J. (1959). "Dividends, Earnings and Stock Prices". Review of Economics and Statistics (The MIT Press) 41 (2): 99–105. Franklin M. Fisher & R. Craig Romaine, Janis Joplin’s Yearbook and the Theory of Damages, 5 J. ACCT. AUDITING & FIN. 145 (New Series 1990).