No, not in the literal sense. This is a G-rated commentary…
EBITDA is an acronym for Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation & Amortization. It is your business’ profit from operations. More than just understanding it, being intimate with how it affects your business is critically important.
EBITDA is pure because it does not include the effects of financing decisions (this is why is excludes interest,) accounting decisions (this is why it excludes depreciation & amortization,) and tax environments (this is why it excludes income taxes paid or payable.) It simply shows just how slick of an operator you really are.
If your accountant isn’t including this in your financial statements, you can figure it out pretty easily using the formula above. How has your EBITDA been trending over the last 5 years? Have you considered the reason why?
Your lender is keenly interested in your EBITDA. In fact, he or she will calculate it internally and measure it against your total debt payments required in the next 12 months. It is called “debt service coverage” or DSC for short, and is a deal breaker if it doesn’t meet your lenders’ minimum standards.
For many farms, net equity has been on a very positive trend over the last several years. While this is good news, like any news we can’t just take it at face value. What is the underlying story? If equity has been increasing from appreciation of asset values (namely land) and not from retained earnings, then it does not build confidence that the operation is profitable. If the operation is profitable, it is capable of growth and meeting loan repayment schedules (those same loans that help fund the growth.)
If a business is not retaining any earnings within the business, it limits its ability to fund growth, transition, etc.
To Plan for Prosperity
Recognize that EBITDA is the measure of your business’ operating performance. It has a key accountability in growing your business’ net equity. It is heavily relied upon by lenders.
- Calculate your EBITDA. Look at how it is trending. Acknowledge what it affecting the trend.
- Understand your lender’s debt service coverage (DSC) calculations.
- Decipher what has had the greatest inpact on your net equity: appreciation of assets, retained earnings, or both?
Your relationship with your EBITDA should be very, very close; some might even say “intimate.”