Outlook brighter for sales of Portland businesses

Outlook brighter for sales of Portland businesses

 BY BRANDON SAWYER | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Much like residential real estate that finally seems to be regaining ground lost during the recession, sales of businesses are also seeing modest improvement according to data from BizBuySell.com, the largest online marketplace of businesses for sale.

Nationally, small business sales increased 56% in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same quarter last year, achieving the most sales since the second quarter of 2008. The Portland Metro area is lagging that trend with just an 8% increase in business listings in the first quarter, from 147 in 2012 to 159 in 2013. Other Portland statistics are more promising: Among those listed businesses, the median asking price rose 15% from $195K to $225K; median annual revenue increased 10% from $378K to $415K; and median cash flow grew 7% from $85K to $91K.

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This follows years of stagnation for small business owners looking for an exit. Potential buyers were also unable to get a loan or with capital diminished by stock market woes. In 2012, the number of completed business sales in Portland via BizBuySell.com increased to 67, 18% higher than five years prior. However, the median sale price fell to $150K from $185K in 2008, a 19% drop, and median revenue for the businesses sold fell to $337K from $355K. Yet, while prices dropped, the gap between asking price and sale price narrowed.

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Among the 67 Portland-area businesses sold in 2012, 25 were in the service industry, 20 were retailers, 15 were restaurants, 4 were manufacturers and 3 were in other industries. Manufacturers fetched the highest median price, $490K while retailers got the lowest, $100K.

If business financials continue to improve along with investor confidence and market stability, activity between buyers and sellers of businesses could pick up further in 2013. Business brokers are cautiously optimistic according to BizBuySell.com. More than half of them expected "slight to significant improvement" in a survey it conducted last year.

Research editor Brandon Sawyer digs heaps of data about privately-held and public companies, economics and industries.