# Valuation (finance)

Last updated
that this article is corporate finance focused: for the valuation of derivatives and interest rate / fixed income instruments see Mathematical finance; for a discussion of the theory see Asset pricing.

In finance, valuation is the process of determining the present value (PV) of an asset. Valuations can be done on assets (for example, investments in marketable securities such as stocks, options, business enterprises, or intangible assets such as patents and trademarks) or on liabilities (e.g., bonds issued by a company). Valuations are needed for many reasons such as investment analysis, capital budgeting, merger and acquisition transactions, financial reporting, taxable events to determine the proper tax liability.

## Valuation overview

Common terms for the value of an asset or liability are market value, fair value, and intrinsic value. The meanings of these terms differ. For instance, when an analyst believes a stock's intrinsic value is greater (or less) than its market price, an analyst makes a "buy" (or "sell") recommendation. Moreover, an asset's intrinsic value may be subject to personal opinion and vary among analysts. The International Valuation Standards include definitions for common bases of value and generally accepted practice procedures for valuing assets of all types. Regardless, the valuation itself is done generally using one or more of the following approaches [1] ; but see also, Outline of finance #Valuation:

1. Absolute value models ("Intrinsic valuation") that determine the present value of an asset's expected future cash flows. These models take two general forms: multi-period models such as discounted cash flow models, or single-period models such as the Gordon model (which, in fact, often "telescope" the former). These models rely on mathematics rather than price observation. See #Discounted cash flow valuation.
2. Relative value models determine value based on the observation of market prices of 'comparable' assets, relative to a common variable like earnings, cashflows, book value or sales. This result will often be used to complement / assess the intrinsic valuation. See #Relative valuation.
3. Option pricing models, in this context, are used to value specific balance-sheet items, or the asset itself, when these have option-like characteristics. Examples of the first type are warrants, employee stock options, and investments with embedded options such as callable bonds; the second type are usually real options. The most common option pricing models employed here are the Black–Scholes-Merton models and lattice models. This approach is sometimes referred to as contingent claim valuation, in that the value will be contingent on some other asset; see #Contingent claim valuation.

## Usage

In finance, valuation analysis is required for many reasons including tax assessment, wills and estates, divorce settlements, business analysis, and basic bookkeeping and accounting. Since the value of things fluctuates over time, valuations are as of a specific date like the end of the accounting quarter or year. They may alternatively be mark-to-market estimates of the current value of assets or liabilities as of this minute or this day for the purposes of managing portfolios and associated financial risk (for example, within large financial firms including investment banks and stockbrokers).

Some balance sheet items are much easier to value than others. Publicly traded stocks and bonds have prices that are quoted frequently and readily available. Other assets are harder to value. For instance, private firms that have no frequently quoted price. Additionally, financial instruments that have prices that are partly dependent on theoretical models of one kind or another are difficult to value. For example, options are generally valued using the Black–Scholes model while the liabilities of life assurance firms are valued using the theory of present value. Intangible business assets, like goodwill and intellectual property, are open to a wide range of value interpretations.

It is possible and conventional for financial professionals to make their own estimates of the valuations of assets or liabilities that they are interested in. Their calculations are of various kinds including analyses of companies that focus on price-to-book, price-to-earnings, price-to-cash-flow and present value calculations, and analyses of bonds that focus on credit ratings, assessments of default risk, risk premia, and levels of real interest rates. All of these approaches may be thought of as creating estimates of value that compete for credibility with the prevailing share or bond prices, where applicable, and may or may not result in buying or selling by market participants. Where the valuation is for the purpose of a merger or acquisition the respective businesses make available further detailed financial information, usually on the completion of a non-disclosure agreement.

It is important to note that valuation requires judgment and assumptions:

• There are different circumstances and purposes to value an asset (e.g., distressed firm, tax purposes, mergers and acquisitions, financial reporting). Such differences can lead to different valuation methods or different interpretations of the method results
• All valuation models and methods have limitations (e.g., degree of complexity, relevance of observations, mathematical form)
• Model inputs can vary significantly because of necessary judgment and differing assumptions

Users of valuations benefit when key information, assumptions, and limitations are disclosed to them. Then they can weigh the degree of reliability of the result and make their decision.

Businesses or fractional interests in businesses may be valued for various purposes such as mergers and acquisitions, sale of securities, and taxable events. An accurate valuation of privately owned companies largely depends on the reliability of the firm's historic financial information. Public company financial statements are audited by Certified Public Accountants (USA), Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or Chartered Accountants (UK and Canada) and overseen by a government regulator. Alternatively, private firms do not have government oversight—unless operating in a regulated industry—and are usually not required to have their financial statements audited. Moreover, managers of private firms often prepare their financial statements to minimize profits and, therefore, taxes. Alternatively, managers of public firms tend to want higher profits to increase their stock price. Therefore, a firm's historic financial information may not be accurate and can lead to over- and undervaluation. In an acquisition, a buyer often performs due diligence to verify the seller's information.

Financial statements prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) show many assets based on their historic costs rather than at their current market values. For instance, a firm's balance sheet will usually show the value of land it owns at what the firm paid for it rather than at its current market value. But under GAAP requirements, a firm must show the fair values (which usually approximates market value) of some types of assets such as financial instruments that are held for sale rather than at their original cost. When a firm is required to show some of its assets at fair value, some call this process "mark-to-market". But reporting asset values on financial statements at fair values gives managers ample opportunity to slant asset values upward to artificially increase profits and their stock prices. Managers may be motivated to alter earnings upward so they can earn bonuses. Despite the risk of manager bias, equity investors and creditors prefer to know the market values of a firm's assets—rather than their historical costs—because current values give them better information to make decisions.

There are commonly three pillars to valuing business entities: comparable company analyses, discounted cash flow analysis, and precedent transaction analysis.

### Discounted cash flow method

This method estimates the value of an asset based on its expected future cash flows, which are discounted to the present (i.e., the present value). This concept of discounting future money is commonly known as the time value of money. For instance, an asset that matures and pays \$1 in one year is worth less than \$1 today. The size of the discount is based on an opportunity cost of capital and it is expressed as a percentage or discount rate.

In finance theory, the amount of the opportunity cost is based on a relation between the risk and return of some sort of investment. Classic economic theory maintains that people are rational and averse to risk. They, therefore, need an incentive to accept risk. The incentive in finance comes in the form of higher expected returns after buying a risky asset. In other words, the more risky the investment, the more return investors want from that investment. Using the same example as above, assume the first investment opportunity is a government bond that will pay interest of 5% per year and the principal and interest payments are guaranteed by the government. Alternatively, the second investment opportunity is a bond issued by small company and that bond also pays annual interest of 5%. If given a choice between the two bonds, virtually all investors would buy the government bond rather than the small-firm bond because the first is less risky while paying the same interest rate as the riskier second bond. In this case, an investor has no incentive to buy the riskier second bond. Furthermore, in order to attract capital from investors, the small firm issuing the second bond must pay an interest rate higher than 5% that the government bond pays. Otherwise, no investor is likely to buy that bond and, therefore, the firm will be unable to raise capital. But by offering to pay an interest rate more than 5% the firm gives investors an incentive to buy a riskier bond.

For a valuation using the discounted cash flow method, one first estimates the future cash flows from the investment and then estimates a reasonable discount rate after considering the riskiness of those cash flows and interest rates in the capital markets. Next, one makes a calculation to compute the present value of the future cash flows.

### Guideline companies method

This method determines the value of a firm by observing the prices of similar companies (called "guideline companies") that sold in the market. Those sales could be shares of stock or sales of entire firms. The observed prices serve as valuation benchmarks. From the prices, one calculates price multiples such as the price-to-earnings or price-to-book ratios—one or more of which used to value the firm. For example, the average price-to-earnings multiple of the guideline companies is applied to the subject firm's earnings to estimate its value.

Many price multiples can be calculated. Most are based on a financial statement element such as a firm's earnings (price-to-earnings) or book value (price-to-book value) but multiples can be based on other factors such as price-per-subscriber.

### Net asset value method

The third-most common method of estimating the value of a company looks to the assets and liabilities of the business. At a minimum, a solvent company could shut down operations, sell off the assets, and pay the creditors. Any cash that would remain establishes a floor value for the company. This method is known as the net asset value or cost method. In general the discounted cash flows of a well-performing company exceed this floor value. Some companies, however, are worth more "dead than alive", like weakly performing companies that own many tangible assets. This method can also be used to value heterogeneous portfolios of investments, as well as nonprofits, for which discounted cash flow analysis is not relevant. The valuation premise normally used is that of an orderly liquidation of the assets, although some valuation scenarios (e.g., purchase price allocation) imply an "in-use" valuation such as depreciated replacement cost new.

An alternative approach to the net asset value method is the excess earnings method. (This method was first described in the U.S. Internal Revenue Service's Appeals and Review Memorandum 34,[ further explanation needed ] and later refined by Revenue Ruling 68-609.) The excess earnings method has the appraiser identify the value of tangible assets, estimate an appropriate return on those tangible assets, and subtract that return from the total return for the business, leaving the "excess" return, which is presumed to come from the intangible assets. An appropriate capitalization rate is applied to the excess return, resulting in the value of those intangible assets. That value is added to the value of the tangible assets and any non-operating assets, and the total is the value estimate for the business as a whole. See Clean surplus accounting, Residual Income Valuation.

## Specialised cases

In the below cases, depending on context, Real options valuation techniques are also sometimes employed, if not preferred; for further discussion here see Business valuation #Option pricing approaches, Corporate finance #Valuing flexibility.

### Valuation of a suffering company

When valuing "distressed securities", various adjustments are typically made to the valuation result; this would be true whether market-, income-, or asset-based. These adjustments consider

• Lack of marketability discount of shares
• Control premium or lack of control discount
• Excess or restricted cash
• Other non-operating assets and liabilities
• Above- or below-market leases
• Excess salaries in the case of private companies

The financial statements here are similarly recast, including adjustments to working capital, deferred capital expenditures, cost of goods sold, Non-recurring professional fees and costs, and certain non-operating income/expense items [2]

In many of these cases, the company in question is valued using real options analysis - see Business valuation #Option pricing approaches. This value serves to complement (or sometimes replace) the above value.

### Valuation of a startup company

Startup companies such as Uber, which was valued at \$50 billion in early 2015, are assigned post-money valuations based on the price at which their most recent investor put money into the company. The price reflects what investors, for the most part venture capital firms, are willing to pay for a share of the firm. They are not listed on any stock market, nor is the valuation based on their assets or profits, but on their potential for success, growth, and eventually, possible profits. [3] Many startup companies use internal growth factors to show their potential growth which may attribute to their valuation. The professional investors who fund startups are experts, but hardly infallible, see Dot-com bubble. [4]

### Valuation of intangible assets

See: Patent valuation #Option-based method.

Valuation models can be used to value intangible assets such as for patent valuation, but also in copyrights, software, trade secrets, and customer relationships. Since few sales of benchmark intangible assets can ever be observed, one often values these sorts of assets using either a present value model or estimating the costs to recreate it. Regardless of the method, the process is often time-consuming and costly.

Valuations of intangible assets are often necessary for financial reporting and intellectual property transactions.

Stock markets give indirectly an estimate of a corporation's intangible asset value. It can be reckoned as the difference between its market capitalisation and its book value (by including only hard assets in it).

### Valuation of mining projects

In mining, valuation is the process of determining the value or worth of a mining property (i.e. as distinct from a listed mining corporate). Mining valuations are sometimes required for IPOs, fairness opinions, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, and shareholder-related matters. In valuation of a mining project or mining property, fair market value is the standard of value to be used.

"CIMVal" generally applied by the Toronto Stock Exchange, is widely recognised as a "standard" for the valuation of mining projects. (CIMVal: Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum on Valuation of Mineral Properties [5] ) The Australasian equivalent is VALMIN; the Southern African is SAMVAL.

These standards stress the use of the cost approach, market approach, and the income approach, depending on the stage of development of the mining property or project. See [6] for further discussion and context, as well as Mineral economics in general, and Mineral resource classification.

### Valuing financial service firms

There are two main difficulties with valuing financial services firms. [7] [8] The first is that the cash flows to a financial service firm cannot be easily estimated, since capital expenditures, working capital and debt are not clearly defined: "debt for a financial service firm is more akin to raw material than to a source of capital; the notion of cost of capital and enterprise value (EV) may be meaningless as a consequence." The second is that these firms operate under a highly regulated framework, and valuation assumptions (and model outputs) must incorporate regulatory limits, at least as "bounds".

The approach taken for a DCF valuation, is to then "remove" debt from the valuation, by discounting free cash flow to equity at the cost of equity (or equivalently to apply a modified dividend discount model). This is in contrast to the more typical approach of discounting free cash flow to the Firm where EBIDTA less capital expenditures and working capital is discounted at the weighted average cost of capital, which incorporates the cost of debt. For a multiple based valuation, similarly, price to earnings is preferred to EV/EBITDA.

## Related Research Articles

In finance, discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis is a method of valuing a project, company, or asset using the concepts of the time value of money. Discounted cash flow analysis is widely used in investment finance, real estate development, corporate financial management and patent valuation. It was used in industry as early as the 1700s or 1800s, widely discussed in financial economics in the 1960s, and became widely used in U.S. courts in the 1980s and 1990s.

Fundamental analysis, in accounting and finance, is the analysis of a business's financial statements ; health; and competitors and markets. It also considers the overall state of the economy and factors including interest rates, production, earnings, employment, GDP, housing, manufacturing and management. There are two basic approaches that can be used: bottom up analysis and top down analysis. These terms are used to distinguish such analysis from other types of investment analysis, such as quantitative and technical.

Discounting is a financial mechanism in which a debtor obtains the right to delay payments to a creditor, for a defined period of time, in exchange for a charge or fee. Essentially, the party that owes money in the present purchases the right to delay the payment until some future date. The discount, or charge, is the difference between the original amount owed in the present and the amount that has to be paid in the future to settle the debt.

To invest is to allocate money in the expectation of some benefit in the future.

In finance, equity is ownership of assets that may have debts or other liabilities attached to them. Equity is measured by subtracting liabilities from the value of an asset. For example, if someone owns a car worth \$15,000 and owes \$5,000 on the loan used to buy the car, then the difference of \$10,000 is equity. Equity can apply to a single asset, such as a car or house, or to an entire business entity. Selling equity in a business is an essential method for acquiring cash needed to start up and expand operations.

In accounting, book value is the value of an asset according to its balance sheet account balance. For assets, the value is based on the original cost of the asset less any depreciation, amortization or impairment costs made against the asset. Traditionally, a company's book value is its total assets minus intangible assets and liabilities. However, in practice, depending on the source of the calculation, book value may variably include goodwill, intangible assets, or both. The value inherent in its workforce, part of the intellectual capital of a company, is always ignored. When intangible assets and goodwill are explicitly excluded, the metric is often specified to be "tangible book value".

In financial markets, stock valuation is the method of calculating theoretical values of companies and their stocks. The main use of these methods is to predict future market prices, or more generally, potential market prices, and thus to profit from price movement – stocks that are judged undervalued are bought, while stocks that are judged overvalued are sold, in the expectation that undervalued stocks will overall rise in value, while overvalued stocks will generally decrease in value.

Rational pricing is the assumption in financial economics that asset prices will reflect the arbitrage-free price of the asset as any deviation from this price will be "arbitraged away". This assumption is useful in pricing fixed income securities, particularly bonds, and is fundamental to the pricing of derivative instruments.

Enterprise value (EV), total enterprise value (TEV), or firm value (FV) is an economic measure reflecting the market value of a business. It is a sum of claims by all claimants: creditors and shareholders. Enterprise value is one of the fundamental metrics used in business valuation, financial modeling, accounting, portfolio analysis, and risk analysis.

Capital budgeting, and investment appraisal, is the planning process used to determine whether an organization's long term investments such as new machinery, replacement of machinery, new plants, new products, and research development projects are worth the funding of cash through the firm's capitalization structure. It is the process of allocating resources for major capital, or investment, expenditures. One of the primary goals of capital budgeting investments is to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders.

Valuation using discounted cash flows is a method of estimating the current value of a company based on projected future cash flows adjusted for the time value of money. The cash flows are made up of the cash flows within the forecast period together with a continuing or terminal value that represents the cash flow stream after the forecast period. In several contexts, DCF valuation is referred to as the "income approach".

In economics, valuation using multiples, or “relative valuation”, is a process that consists of:

Intellectual property assets such as patents are the core of many organizations and transactions related to technology. Licenses and assignments of intellectual property rights are common operations in the technology markets, as well as the use of these types of assets as loan security. These uses give rise to the growing importance of financial valuation of intellectual property, since knowing the economic value of patents is a critical factor in order to define their trading conditions.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to finance:

The First Chicago Method or Venture Capital Method is a business valuation approach used by venture capital and private equity investors that combines elements of both a multiples-based valuation and a discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation approach.

The Chepakovich valuation model is a specialized discounted cash flow valuation model, originally designed for the valuation of “growth stocks”, and subsequently applied to the valuation of high-tech companies - even those that are (currently) unprofitable. Relatedly, it is a general valuation model and can also be applied to no-growth or negative growth companies. In fact, in the limiting case of no growth in revenues, the model yields similar results to a regular discounted cash flow to equity model. The model was developed by Alexander Chepakovich in 2000 and enhanced in subsequent years.

The clean surplus accounting method provides elements of a forecasting model that yields price as a function of earnings, expected returns, and change in book value. The theory's primary use is to estimate the value of a company’s shares. The secondary use is to estimate the cost of capital, as an alternative to e.g. the CAPM. The "clean surplus" is calculated by not including transactions with shareholders when calculating returns; whereas standard accounting for financial statements requires that the change in book value equal earnings minus dividends.

In finance, a contingent claim is a derivative whose future payoff depends on the value of another “underlying” asset, or more generally, that is dependent on the realization of some uncertain future event. These are so named, since there is only a payoff under certain contingencies. Any derivative instrument that is not a contingent claim is called a forward commitment. The prototypical contingent claim is an option, the right to buy or sell the underlying asset at a specified exercise price by a certain expiration date; whereas (vanilla) swaps, forwards, and futures are forward commitments, since these grant no such optionality. Contingent claims are applied under financial economics in developing models and theory, and in corporate finance as a valuation framework.

Corporate finance is an area of finance that deals with sources of funding, the capital structure of corporations, the actions that managers take to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders, and the tools and analysis used to allocate financial resources. The primary goal of corporate finance is to maximize or increase shareholder value.

## References

1. Aswath Damodaran (2012). An Introduction to Valuation. NYU teaching note
2. Joseph Swanson and Peter Marshall, Houlihan Lokey and Lyndon Norley, Kirkland & Ellis International LLP (2008). A Practitioner's Guide to Restructuring, Andrew Miller’s Valuation of a Distressed Company p. 24. ISBN   978-1-905121-31-1
3. Cook, Andrew. "Investing in Potential". five23.io. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
4. Andrew Ross Sorkin (May 11, 2015). "Main Street Portfolios Are Investing in Unicorns" (Dealbook blog). The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2015. There is no meaningful stock market for these shares. Their values are based on what a small handful of investors—usually venture capital firms, private equity firms or other corporations—are willing to pay for a stake.
5. E.V. Lilford and R.C.A. Minnitt (2005). A comparative study of valuation methodologies for mineral developments, The Journal of The South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Jan. 2005
6. Aswath Damodaran (2009). Valuing Financial Service Firms, Stern, NYU
7. Doron Nissim (2010). Analysis and Valuation of Insurance Companies, Columbia Business School