Middle market business fundamentals remain strong, although some companies are starting to show caution. Revenue growth and hiring have been robust, although companies continue to face challenges in finding skilled workers. There remains a strong appetite for quality deals as valuations have declined slightly. Private equity firms still have about $1 trillion of “dry powder” and appear impatient to put some of that to work. M&A volume moderated slightly in the second half of 2022 and appears unlikely to duplicate 2021’s record pace, but is on track for another strong year.
After two straight periods of decline, the FOCUS Telecom Business Services Index (TBSI) rebounded in our winter reporting period to deliver a strong three-month gain of 15.0%. This handily outperformed both the 7.1% gain in the S&P 500 and the 1.0% drop in the NASDAQ over the corresponding time period. Even with this period’s gains, the TBSI remains in the red for the full 12-month period with a loss of 11.5%. On the bright side, this still outperforms the 19.4% drop in the S&P 500 and the 33.1% drop in the NASDAQ over the past year. Sector multiples are lower than they were a year ago, but only by the narrowest of margins. The sector revenue multiple slipped from 1.0x to 0.9x, while the sector EBITDA multiple inched down from 11.0x to 10.9x.
The FOCUS Carrier-Focused Telecom Technology Index (CFTTI) gained 4.8% in the past three months. This com-fortably exceeded both the 3.2% gain in the S&P 500 and the 3.0% decline in the NASDAQ. Even with this period’s gain, the CFTTI is still down 11.9% year-over-year. This performance was slightly worse than the 10.7% decline in the S&P 500 over this same time period, but much better than the 26.2% loss in the NASDAQ. Sector multiples are lower than they were a year ago, but not by a wide margin. The CFTTI revenue multiple dipped from 2.5x to 2.3x, while the EBITDA multiple fell from 12.0x to 11.4x.
While its decline slowed somewhat this period, the FOCUS Enterprise-Focused Telecom Technology Index (EFTTI) continued its downward slide with a loss of 3.1% in the past three months.
Things went from bad to worse for the FOCUS Communications Service Provider Index (CSPI) this period as the sector plummeted 25.6%. This decline was significantly steeper than both the 5.3% decline in the S&P 500 and the 4.1% decline in the NASDAQ over the corresponding time period. The situation is also bleak for the full year period with the sector down slightly more than 45% over the past 12 months. Once again, this drastically underperformed the returns in the S&P 500 (down 16.8%) and the NASDAQ (down 26.8%). Sector multiples continued to fall, ending the period at 2.1x revenue and 6.0x EBITDA. This compares unfavorably to year-ago multiples of 2.9x revenue and 8.2x EBITDA.
The FOCUS Telecom Business Services Index (TBSI) suffered a negative return for the second straight reporting period with a 4.1% decline. While disappointing, the sector still managed to outperform the 5.3% decline in the S&P 500 and stay even with the 4.1% drop in the NASDAQ. The situation is similar for the full year period. While the sub sector is down 16.1% over the past 12 months, it still outperformed the S&P 500 (down 16.8%) and the NASDAQ (down 26.8%). Sector multiples closed out the period at 0.8x revenue and 9.7x EBITDA. Both of these are lower than year-ago multiples of 1.0x revenue and 10.4x EBITDA.
The FOCUS Carrier-Focused Telecom Technology Index (CFTTI) held steady over the past three months, neither gaining nor losing value.
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Public Markets Continuing its downward slide, the FOCUS Enterprise-Focused Telecom ...
The FOCUS Communications Service Provider Index (CSPI) dropped 12.8% in the past three months. This is the fourth straight period (a full year) where the sector suffered a negative return. Losses were broad based, with every sub sector in the CSPI in negative territory. The broader indices were also down this period with the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ falling 16.5% and 22.4%, respectively. Not surprisingly given this recent string of losses, the CSPI is deeply in negative territory for the full year period with a decline of slightly more than 31%. This decline is even larger than the substantial declines in the broader indices of 11.9% in the S&P 500 and 24.0% in the NASDAQ. Sector multiples are meaningfully lower than they were a year ago.The sector revenue multiple went from 3.1x to 2.5x, while the sector EBITDA multiple went from 8.7x to 7.1x.