Tensions between management and investors set to characterise global M&A in 2011.
Markets rise but have not matched pace of expected earnings growth.
A recovery in global M&A activity is forecast for 2011 as deal-making capacity continues to improve against a background of investor caution.
According to the latest KPMG International Global M&A Predictor, forecast net debt to EBITDA ratios are set to tumble 18 percent over the next year, suggesting that M&A war-chests are now healthily stocked. Net debt globally will fall by 10 percent, showing extensive deleveraging, meaning that M&A capacity continues to improve strongly.
However, it is the forward PE ratios within the Predictor which will likely attract most attention – as an indicator of deal-making appetite. Globally, forward PE ratios are 11 percent down over the last twelve months (down from 14.4x to 12.8x).
Typically, this would suggest diminished deal-making appetite yet the decline should be viewed in the context of rising markets (up 12%) and even faster earnings expectations (up 26%), both of which are historic leading indicators of greater M&A actvity.
Combine this with evidence that 2010 global deal activity rose to a level above that of 2005 and it leads KPMG to sound a positive note about predicted deal activity, as explained by David Simpson, Global Head of M&A and a partner in the UK firm: "I believe that what we’re seeing played out in the latest Predictor is the struggle between more confident managements and investors which still need some convincing."
"The demand side of 2010's deal-making recovery has been driven by a number of factors including the steady build-up of cash by larger companies and the need to access new markets and technologies. This will be enhanced by the supply side in 2011, driven by a deal overhang from a variety of investors which need to rebalance their portfolios. We also expect to see continued growth in private equity driven M&A - on both the buy and sell sides - and an increased volume of IPOs for similar reasons."
David Simpson added: "The struggle between managements and investors shown by our figures is very much mirrored at the individual company level. What you tend to see here is management teams keen to pursue growth ambitions, in what were – until recently – low inflationary environments, coming up against investors who cannot quite share their optimism. The latter thus remain cautious about proposed management team spending."
"The expression often used at times like this is ‘climbing a wall of worry’ - in that the stock market is improving despite certain ongoing concerns or negative sentiment, including nervousness about rate rises and inflation. That’s exactly what’s happening in the M&A market. Not everyone can bring themselves to endorse the optimism at the same time though; some people are just faster climbers than others."
Notable highlights from the latest Global M&A Predictor include: