When the value of a business is based on the sales of comparable companies under the guideline merger and acquisition (M&A) method, it’s important to understand the cash-equivalent value of comparables. Creative deal terms can make a deal more (or less) valuable than it appears on the surface. This article lists three common reasons why selling price can be misleading: installment sales, earnouts and contractual agreements with sellers. Deals with such terms may require an adjustment to arrive at a cash-equivalent value. A sidebar demonstrates how deal structure can help bridge a bid-ask spread in an M&A transaction.