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What Is Valuation? – Investopedia

James Chen, CMT is an expert trader, investment adviser, and global market strategist. He has authored books on technical analysis and foreign exchange trading published by John Wiley and Sons and served as a guest expert on CNBC, BloombergTV, Forbes, and Reuters among other financial media.
Investopedia / Mira Norian
Valuation is the analytical process of determining the current (or projected) worth of an asset or a company. There are many techniques used for doing a valuation. An analyst placing a value on a company looks at the business’s management, the composition of its capital structure, the prospect of future earnings, and the market value of its assets, among other metrics.
Fundamental analysis is often employed in valuation, although several other methods may be employed such as the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) or the dividend discount model (DDM).
A valuation can be useful when trying to determine the fair value of a security, which is determined by what a buyer is willing to pay a seller, assuming both parties enter the transaction willingly. When a security trades on an exchange, buyers and sellers determine the market value of a stock or bond.
The concept of intrinsic value, however, refers to the perceived value of a security based on future earnings or some other company attribute unrelated to the market price of a security. That’s where valuation comes into play. Analysts do a valuation to determine whether a company or asset is overvalued or undervalued by the market.
For example, if the P/E of a company is lower than the P/E multiple of a comparable company, the original company might be considered undervalued. Typically, the relative valuation model is a lot easier and quicker to calculate than the absolute valuation model, which is why many investors and analysts begin their analysis with this model.
There are various ways to do a valuation.
The comparable company analysis is a method that looks at similar companies, in size and industry, and how they trade to determine a fair value for a company or asset. The past transaction method looks at past transactions of similar companies to determine an appropriate value. There’s also the asset-based valuation method, which adds up all the company’s asset values, assuming they were sold at fair market value, to get the intrinsic value.
In investments, a comparables approach is often synonymous with relative valuation.
Sometimes doing all of these and then weighing each is appropriate to calculate intrinsic value. Meanwhile, some methods are more appropriate for certain industries and not others. For example, you wouldn't use an asset-based valuation approach to valuing a consulting company that has few assets; instead, an earnings-based approach like the DCF would be more appropriate.
Analysts also place a value on an asset or investment using the cash inflows and outflows generated by the asset, called a discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis. These cash flows are discounted into a current value using a discount rate, which is an assumption about interest rates or a minimum rate of return assumed by the investor.
DCF approaches to valuation are used in pricing stocks, such as with dividend discount models like the Gordon growth model.
If a company is buying a piece of machinery, the firm analyzes the cash outflow for the purchase and the additional cash inflows generated by the new asset. All the cash flows are discounted to a present value, and the business determines the net present value (NPV). If the NPV is a positive number, the company should make the investment and buy the asset.
The precedent transaction method compares the company being valued to other similar companies that have recently been sold. The comparison works best if the companies are in the same industry. The precedent transaction method is often employed in mergers and acquisition transactions.
The earnings per share (EPS) formula is stated as earnings available to common shareholders divided by the number of common stock shares outstanding. EPS is an indicator of company profit because the more earnings a company can generate per share, the more valuable each share is to investors.
Analysts also use the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio for stock valuation, which is calculated as the market price per share divided by EPS. The P/E ratio calculates how expensive a stock price is relative to the earnings produced per share.
For example, if the P/E ratio of a stock is 20 times earnings, an analyst compares that P/E ratio with other companies in the same industry and with the ratio for the broader market. In equity analysis, using ratios like the P/E to value a company is called a multiples-based, or multiples approach, valuation. Other multiples, such as EV/EBITDA, are compared with similar companies and historical multiples to calculate intrinsic value.
When deciding which valuation method to use to value a stock for the first time, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the number of valuation techniques available to investors. There are valuation methods that are fairly straightforward while others are more involved and complicated.
Unfortunately, there's no one method that's best suited for every situation. Each stock is different, and each industry or sector has unique characteristics that may require multiple valuation methods. At the same time, different valuation methods will produce different values for the same underlying asset or company which may lead analysts to employ the technique that provides the most favorable output.
Those interested in learning more about valuation and other financial topics may want to consider enrolling in one of the best personal finance classes.
A common example of valuation is a company's market capitalization. This takes the share price of a company and multiplies it by the total shares outstanding. For example, if a company's share price is $10, and the company has 2 million shares outstanding, its market capitalization would be $20 million.
There are many ways to calculate valuation and will differ on what is being valued and when. A common calculation in valuing a business involves determining the fair value of all of its assets minus all of its liabilities. This is an asset-based calculation.
The purpose of valuation is to determine the worth of an asset or company and compare that to the current market price. This is done so for a variety of reasons, such as bringing on investors, selling the company, purchasing the company, selling off assets or portions of the business, the exit of a partner, or inheritance purposes.
Valuation is the process of determining the worth of an asset or company. Valuation is important because it provides prospective buyers with an idea of how much they should pay for an asset or company and for prospective sellers, how much they should sell for.
Valuation plays an important role in the M&A industry, as well as in regard to the growth of a company. There are many valuation methods, all of which come with their pros and cons.
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