EV to Sales

What is EV to Sales Ratio?

EV to Sales Ratio is the valuation metric which is used to understand company’s total valuation compared to its sale and is calculated by dividing enterprise value (Current Market Cap + Debt + Minority Interest + preferred shares – cash) by annual sales of the company.

Have a look at the above Box IPO Financial model with forecasts. What we note is that BOX is making losses not only at the Operating but also at the Net Income Level. How do you value such companies that grow fast but are free cash flowCash FlowThe cash flow to the firm or equity after paying off all debts and commitments is referred to as free cash flow (FCF). It measures how much cash a firm makes after deducting its needed working capital and capital expenditures (CAPEX).read more negative?

In such cases, we cannot apply valuation multiples like PE ratioPE RatioThe price to earnings (PE) ratio measures the relative value of the corporate stocks, i.e., whether it is undervalued or overvalued. It is calculated as the proportion of the current price per share to the earnings per share. read more (due to negative earnings), EV to EBITDAEV To EBITDAEV to EBITDA is the ratio between enterprise value and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization that helps the investor in the valuation of the company at a very subtle level by allowing the investor to compare a specific company to the peer company in the industry as a whole, or other comparative industries.read more (if EBITDA is negative), or DCF approach (when FCFF is negative).  The valuation tool that comes to our rescue is EV to Sales.

Box IPO Ev to Sales

In this article, we will dig deeper –

What do we mean by Enterprise Value to Revenue Ratio?

EV / Sales is an interesting ratio. It takes into account the enterprise value, and then the enterprise value is being compared with the sales of the company. Now, why should we calculate this ratio? With this ratio, we get an idea of how much it costs to investors relative to per-unit sales.

From the investor’s point of view, there are two interpretations that are most important –

  • If this ratio is higher, then it is considered that the company is costlier, and it’s not a good bet for investors to invest in because they won’t be getting any immediate benefit out of this investment.
  • If this ratio is lower, then it is considered to be a great investment opportunity for investors; because when EV / Sales is lower, it is perceived as undervalued, and then if the investors invest, they would get good benefit out of it.

So if you are an investor and thinking of investing in a company, but don’t know whether it’s a good bet or not, calculate Enterprise Value to Sales ratio, and you would know! If it’s higher, stay away from investment; and if it’s lower, go ahead and invest in the company (subject to the other ratios because, as an investor, you shouldn’t take any decision on the basis of only one ratio).

Enterprise Value to Sales Formula

Enterprise Value to Sales Formula

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Source: EV to Sales (wallstreetmojo.com)

Let’s start with Enterprise Value (EV). To find out the enterprise value, we need to know three specific things – market capitalization, the debt that is yet to be paid, and the cash and bank balance.

Here’s the formula of Enterprise Value (EV) –

EV = Market Capitalization + Outstanding Debt – Cash & Bank balances

Now, we need to find out how each of them should be considered.

Market Capitalization is the value we get when we multiply the outstanding shares of the company by the market price of each share. How should we calculate it? Here’s how –

Let’s say Company A has outstanding shares of 10,000, and the market price of each of the shares at this moment is the US $10 per share. So, the market capitalization would be = (outstanding shares of the Company A * market price of each share at this moment) = (10,000 * US $10) = US $100,000.

Outstanding debt is the long-term liabilities the firm needs to pay back in the long run.

And cash & bank balances are the liquid assetsThe Liquid AssetsLiquid Assets are the business assets that can be converted into cash within a short period, such as cash, marketable securities, and money market instruments. They are recorded on the asset side of the company's balance sheet.read more of the company which needs to be deducted from the sum total of market capitalization and outstanding debt. (Also, look a detailed article on Cash & Cash Equivalents)

We have understood all the components of Enterprise Value (EV), which we can now calculate. Let’s now talk about Sales.

What would we consider as “sales” in this ratio?

When we would take sales, it is net sales, not gross salesGross SalesGross Sales, also called Top-Line Sales of a Company, refers to the total sales amount earned over a given period, excluding returns, allowances, rebates, & any other discount. read more. A gross sale is a figure which is inclusive of the sales discount and/or sales returns. We would take the net sales, and that means we need to exclude sales discount and sales returns (if any) from the gross sales to get the right figure.

EV to Revenue Examples

Let’s look at a few examples to understand how to calculate the enterprise value to sales. We will look at a simple example first, and then we will illustrate the ratio with two complex examples.

Example # 1

We have the following information –

DetailsIn US $
Market Price of Share15 / share
Outstanding Shares100,000 shares
Long term liabilities2000,000
Cash & Bank balances40,000

Calculate the Enterprise Value and the ratio of EV / Sales.

This is a simple example, and we will just follow along, as we have explained before.

First, we will calculate the market capitalization by multiplying the outstanding shares with a market price per share.

DetailsIn US $
Market Price of Share (A)15 / share
Outstanding Shares (B)100,000 shares
Market Capitalization (A * B)1,500,000

Now, let’s as we have market capitalization, we can calculate the enterprise value (EV).

DetailsIn US $
Market Capitalization1,500,000
(+) Long term liabilitiesLong Term LiabilitiesLong Term Liabilities, also known as Non-Current Liabilities, refer to a Company’s financial obligations that are due for over a year (from its operating cycle or the Balance Sheet Date). read more 2,000,000
(-) Cash & Bank balances(40,000)
Enterprise Value (EV)3,460,000

We know the enterprise value and sales is already mentioned. So now, we can ascertain the multiple

DetailsIn US $
Enterprise Value (EV)3,460,000
EV / Sales3.46

Depending on the industry, investors need to understand whether 3.46 is a higher or lower ratio, and then the investor can decide whether to invest in a company or not.

Example # 2

Let’s look at the following information –

DetailsIn US $
Market Price of Share12 / share
Book value per share10 / share
Book Value of Shares2,500,000
Long term debtTerm DebtLong-term debt is the debt taken by the company that gets due or is payable after one year on the date of the balance sheet. It is recorded on the liabilities side of the company's balance sheet as the non-current liability.read more3,000,000
Cash & Bank balances500,000
Gross Sales1,500,000
Sales Return400,000

Compute enterprise value (EV) and the ratio EV / Sales.

In this example, the computation is a bit complex as first, we need to find out the number of shares, and then we will be able to compute the market capitalization.

So, let’s find out the outstanding shares first.

DetailsIn US $
Book Value of Shares (A)2,500,000
Book value per share (B)10 / share
Outstanding Shares (A / B)250,000 shares

We know the market price per share, and now we have the exact number of outstanding shares as well. Then we can compute the market capitalization right away –

DetailsIn US $
Outstanding Shares (C)250,000 shares
Market Price of Share (D)12 / share
Market Capitalization (C * D)3,000,000

We now have market capitalization. So it would be easier to calculate enterprise value. Let’s calculate the enterprise value now –

DetailsIn US $
Market Capitalization3,000,000
(+) Long term liabilitiesLong Term LiabilitiesLong Term Liabilities, also known as Non-Current Liabilities, refer to a Company’s financial obligations that are due for over a year (from its operating cycle or the Balance Sheet Date). read more 3,000,000
(-) Cash & Bank balances(500,000)
Enterprise Value (EV)5,500,000

We will now calculate net sales. As we cannot include gross sales in the ratio, we need to deduct sales return from the gross sales and find out the net sales first.

DetailsIn US $
Gross Sales1,500,000
(-) Sales Return(400,000)
Net Sales1,100,000

We now have enterprise value and net sales as well. So we can ascertain this ratio.

DetailsIn US $
Enterprise Value (EV)5,500,000
EV / Sales5.00x

Enterprise value to Sales is 5x, which is higher or lower depending on the industry that the firm operates in. So if the EV / Sales of the industry is usually higher, then the investors can invest in the company. And if it is not the case, the investors need to think twice before investing in the company. But as an investor, it’s of primary importance that you check with all other ratios to come up with a concrete conclusion.

When to use EV/Sales?

Godaddy Operating Loss EV to Sales
  • EV/sales can be useful for identifying restructuring potential. Andrew Griffin noted in his discussion on restructuring that Alcatel-Lucent was reporting losses with each year and was valued at 0.1x Ev/Sales. According to him, the rule-of-thumb was that a mature company should trade at an EV/sales of its EBIT margin percentage, divided by 10. So if the EBIT margin was expected to be 10%, it should trade at 1x multiple; if it was expected to be 5%, then 0.5xEV/Sales. Andrew expected that the company will reach at least 3% EBIT margins, and hence, it looked undervalued.

Which is Better – EV to Sales vs. Price to Sales?

First thing first, the Price to Sales ratio is technically incorrect. Price per share is the price at which one can buy a share, i.e., it belongs to the shareholder or the equity holder. However, when we consider the denominator – Sales, it is a pre-debt item. This means that we haven’t paid off interest, and hence, it belongs to both the debt holder as well as the equity holder. This means that the numerator belongs to the equity holder, and the denominator belongs to both the debt and equity holders. This makes apples to oranges comparison and is, therefore, incorrect.

However, you will still find many analysts using this ratio. In the Price to Sales ratio, an analyst may be using market capitalization to understand how much it costs to purchase the company. However, in P/S, debt is not considered. If a company has huge amounts of debt in its capital structure, then the valuation inferences drawn from the Price to Sales ratio will be incorrect. That’s why EV / Sales is a better ratio than the P/S Ratio.

Let us take an example of Godaddy.

If you observe the trend in EV to Sales and Price To Sales of Godaddy, you will note that there is a marked difference in both the ratios. Why?


source: ycharts

To answer this question, we need to understand the following concept.

Enterprise value = Market Cap + Debt – Cash.

Now when do you think will Enterprise Value be very different from Market Capitalization. This can happen when (Debt – Cash) is a significant number.

Godaddy Large Debt to Equity

source: Godaddy SEC Filings

Godaddy’s Balance Sheet reveals the presence of large amounts of debt ($1,039.8 million). Its Debt to Equity Ratio is greater than 2.0x. However, Godaddy has a cash & cash equivalent of $352 million. The contribution of (Debt – Cash) is pretty significant in the case of Godaddy, and hence, both the ratios differ.

Let us now contrast this with Amazon. Amazon Price to Sales ratio and EV to Sales ratio almost mimic each other.


source: ycharts

Amazon Debt to Equity ratioDebt To Equity RatioThe debt to equity ratio is a representation of the company's capital structure that determines the proportion of external liabilities to the shareholders' equity. It helps the investors determine the organization's leverage position and risk level. read more is low (less than 0.75x), and they have a huge pile-up of cash. Due to this, (Debt – Cash) does not contribute the Enterprise value of Amazon meaningfully. Therefore, we note that Price to Sales and EV to Sales of Amazon are similar.

amazon Debt to Equity

source: Amazon SEC Filings

Using EV to Sales for Box IPO Valuation

#1 – Comparable Comps Method using EV / Sales

Please note that I did this Box IPO ValuationBox IPO ValuationThe analysis of the Box IPO valuation can be done using various methodologies which are Relative Valuation – SaaS Comparable Comps, Comparable Acquisition Analysis, Using Stock-Based Rewards, Valuation cues from Private Equity Funding, Valuation cues from Dropbox Private Equity Funding, and Discounted Cash Flow Approach for Box IPO Valuation.read more a long time back, and I have not updated the numbers since then. However, from understanding the EV/Sales point of view, this example is still valid.

For doing a quick comparable comp analysis SaaS companies, I took the SaaS companies data from the BVP Cloud Index.

Box IPO - SAAS Comparable Valuation Table

We note that Box is not profitable and is negative at the EBITDA level too. The only option to value such a company with negative free cash flows is to use EV/Sales.

We make the following observations from the above table.

Box Valuation

Box IPO Relative Valuation
  • Box Inc valuation range from $11.02 (pessimistic case) to $24.74 (optimistic case)
  • The most expected valuation for Box Inc using Relative Valuation is $16.77 (expected)

#2 – Comparable Acquisition Analysis using EV/Sales

Here we use the comparable acquisition method to find the value of Box IPO. for this, we make a note of all the transactions in a similar domain and their Enterprise Value to Sales ratio.

Below are some of the large M&A transactions in the recent past.

SaaS M&A Transaction Comps

Based on the above comparable acquisition analysis, we can arrive at the following conclusions for Box Valuation –

  • The mean Multiple of 7.4x implies a valuation of closer to $1.8 billion (implying a share price of $18.4/share)
  • The highest Multiple of 9.7x implies a valuation of $2.4 billion (implying a share price of $24.7/share)
  • The lowest Multiple of 4.1x implies a valuation of $1.1 billion (implying a share price of $9.3/share)

in the above, the Sales forecast used for Box is $248,38 million.

Limitations of Enterprise Value to Sales

EV / Sales is a good metric to find out whether to invest in a company or not. However, it’s based on many variables that may change in a matter of days. And it’s not recommended that the investors depend on a single ratio to decide for an investment. The investors should go ahead and look at different ratios to come up with concrete information before investing their money into any investment.

In the final analysis

If you know how to compute EV, you should never bank upon only market capitalization as the debt should also be considered in the equation.

Enterprise Value to Sales Ratio Video


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Reader Interactions


  1. C Chan says

    I think you are missing a zero for you $10mm long-term liabilities and $20mm for your sales in Example 1. Similarly, Example 2 is missing a zero place for values in the millions.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      thanks Chan for pointing this out. There was a mistake in the “,” that i used in numbers.

  2. Rukky says

    great write up sir!

    By the way I downloaded your material from the free download section… but I have no idea where to start from.

      • Rukky says

        thank you so much for the speedy response,
        I have gone through the ratios actually, I guess I was just overwhelmed with the numbers and how you arrived a each figure in the forecast. I shall take my time to digest the material.
        I shall be in touch again soon.

        Many thanks

  3. Jubair-Al-Mahmud says

    Great write up, Sir!

  4. Karan says

    Mean EV/Sales of 7.4x implies a valuation of closer to $900 million – can you please explain how you got 900?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Hi Karan, thanks for your question and highlighting a mistake in the calculation. The actual sales forecast of Box was $248 million and multiplying it by 7.4 will give an enterprise value of $1.8 billion.

      p.s. I corrected the mistake in the blog post.

  5. Manu says

    Very Helpful. You are doing a great work.
    Thanks a ton!!

  6. Ashrit Kasshyap says

    I don’t agree with your statement that you can’t value a company who’s fcfe/fcff is negative using DCF. You could project cash flows (even when negative) and still compute the value as long as you have a positive terminal value(with stable mature growth in perpetuity). In fact all young startups more often than not will have negative cash flows upfront.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Hi Ashrit,
      You are right. You can still value a company with negative FCFE/FCFF (for next 5-7). This can happen when terminal value is positive in the future estimates. Generally, in Equity Research, we tend to forecast for 5-7 years at max and hence, we give up on finding the terminal value in the distant future. Also, the confidence level shown to a terminal value number (arrived after 20 years of projection) will always remain doubtful for investors.
      Just think of Flipkart etc. Do you think their FCFF will be positive in the next 15-20 years? If not, DCF valuation model will throw a value that will be too theoretical. In such cases, we look at alternate approaches of valuation like Relative Valuation like EV/EBITDA or EV/Sales or some other measure.