EVA® (Economic Value Added) was developed by a New York Consulting firm, Stern Steward & Co in 1982 to promote value-maximizing behaviour in corporate managers (O’Hanlon. J & Peasnell. K, 1998). It is a single, value-based measure that was intended to evaluate business strategies, capital projects and to maximize long-term shareholders wealth. Value that has been created or destroyed by the firm during the period can be measured by comparing profits with the cost of capital used to produce them. Therefore, managers can decide to withdraw value-destructive activities and invest in projects that are critical to shareholder’s wealth. This will lead to an increase in the market value of the company. However, activities that do not increase shareholders value might be critical to customer’s satisfaction or social responsibility. For example, acquiring expensive technology to ensure that the environment is not polluted might not be of high value from a shareholder’s perspective. Focusing solely on shareholder’s wealth might jeopardize a firm reputation and profitability in the long run.
EVA sets managerial performance target and links it to reward systems. The single goal of maximizing shareholder value helps to overcome the traditional measure problem, where different measures are used for different purposes with inconsistent standards and goal. Rewards will be given to managers who are able to turn investor’s money and capital into profits efficiently. Researches have found that managers are more likely to respond to EVA incentives when making financial, operational and investing decision (Biddle, Gary, Managerial finance 1998), allowing them to be motivated to behave like owners. However this behaviour might lead to some managers pursuing their own goal and shareholder value at the expense of customer satisfaction.
Unlike simple traditional budgeting, EVA focuses on ends and not means as it does not state how manager can increase company’s value as long as the shareholders wealth are maximised. This allowed managers to have discretion and free range creativity, avoiding any potential dysfunctional short-term behaviour. Rewards such as bonuses from the attainment of EVA target level are usually paid fully at the end of 3 years. This is because workers’ performance is monitored and will only be rewarded when this target is maintained consistently. Hence, leading to long-term shareholders’ wealth.
4 Ms of EVA
As a mnemonic device, Stern Stewart describes four main applications of EVA with four words beginning with the letter M.
EVA is the most accurate measure of corporate performance over any given period. Fortune magazine has called it “today’s hottest financial idea,” and Peter Drucker rightly observed in the Harvard Business Review that EVA is a measure of “total factor productivity” whose growing popularity reflects the new demands of the information age.
(2) Management System
While simply measuring EVA can give companies a better focus on how they are performing, its true value comes in using it as the foundation for a comprehensive financial management system that encompasses all the policies, procedures, methods and measures that guide operations and strategy. The EVA system covers the full range of managerial decisions, including strategic planning, allocating capital, pricing acquisitions or divestitures, setting annual goals-even day-to-day operating decisions. In all cases, the goal of increasing EVA is paramount.
To instill both the sense of urgency and the long-term perspective of an owner, Stern Stewart designs cash bonus plans that cause managers to think like and act like owners because they are paid like owners. Indeed, basing incentive compensation on improvements in EVA is the source of the greatest power in the EVA system. Under an EVA bonus plan, the only way managers can make more money for themselves is by creating even greater value for shareholders. This makes it possible to have bonus plans with no upside limits. In fact, under EVA the greater the bonus for managers, the happier shareholders will be.
When implemented in its totality, the EVA financial management and incentive compensation system transforms a corporate culture. By putting all financial and operating functions on the same basis, the EVA system effectively provides a common language for employees across all corporate functions. EVA facilitates communication and cooperation among divisions and departments, it links strategic planning with the operating divisions, and it eliminates much of the mistrust that typically exists between operations and finance. The EVA framework is, in effect, a system of internal corporate governance that automatically guides all managers and employees and propels them to work for the best interests of the owners. The EVA system also facilitates decentralized decision making because it holds managers responsible for-and rewards them for-delivering value.
The EVA Concept of Profitability
EVA is based on the concept that a successful firm should earn at least its cost of capital. Firms that earn higher returns than financing costs benefit shareholders and account for increased shareholder value. In its simplest form, EVA can be expressed as the following equation:
EVA = Net Operating Profit After Tax (NOPAT) – Cost of Capital