by Brenon Daly
Comparing the valuations of US tech companies with their European counterparts, we can’t help but notice the fact that the recovery hasn’t been enjoyed equally on both sides of the Atlantic. We noted a few months ago that the strong US dollar had opened the way for some opportunistic shopping on the continent. Although most European currencies have inched back up since then, there are still discounts available because the valuations of the companies are still lagging their US peers and rivals.
Earlier this summer, we pointed out that discrepancy in Deltek Systems’ (NASDAQ:PROJ) purchase of Maconomy, which valued the Danish ERP vendor at twice the level it started the year – but still below Deltek’s current valuation on the Nasdaq. Similarly, Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) acquired Day Software at a price that was four times higher than the Swiss company’s own valuation last summer. However, Adobe’s own valuation is higher than the take-out valuation for Day, which included a 60% premium. (Adobe is still valued higher, even though it lost 20% of its value Wednesday after forecasting weaker-than-expected results.)
But those deals pale in comparison to the arbitrage that OpenTable (NASDAQ:OPEN) did in its reach across the Atlantic for toptable.com. OpenTable values the British restaurant reservation service at basically 6 times trailing sales, while the San Francisco-based company trades at 19x trailing sales. (For those of you who haven’t looked lately, OpenTable trades in the mid-$60 range, commanding a market cap of some $1.5bn. Incidentally, various measures of OpenTable’s valuation – specifically, both trailing and forward price to earnings ratio – line up almost exactly with those of salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM).)