In a new ruling in the DFC Global appraisal case, about which we’ve posted before, Chancellor Bouchard has now reconsidered his prior award of 7% over the merger price and increased his prior award by an extra 9 cents per share, translating to an additional $12 million in value above his prior ruling.
Both sides had asked the court to reconsider different aspects of its ruling, prompting the Chancellor raise the perpetuity growth rate in his DCF model from 3.1% to 4.0%. In reconsidering his ruling, the Chancellor held that he “failed to appreciate the extent to which DFC Global’s projected revenue and working capital need have a codependent relationship,” and that the high-level requirement for working capital necessarily corresponds to a high projected growth rate. In so ruling, the court had to overcome its initial theory that a company’s perpetual growth rate should never exceed the risk-free rate. The court came to realize that this proposition would be true only for companies that have reached a stable stage of development; where a company is expected to achieve fast-paced growth throughout the projection period, the court now agreed that the perpetuity growth rate should indeed be higher than the risk-free rate.
The court’s initial opinion rejected the stockholders’ use of a three-stage DCF model in favor of a two-stage model, but on reconsideration the court recognized that using the two-stage model required increasing the terminal growth rate to sufficiently take into account the company’s growth rate beyond the five-year projection period.
Finally, the court’s new ruling also unwound two adjustments to the company’s baseline projections that the court had inadvertently made in accepting the company’s DCF model wholesale.