How to Value a Company: 6 Methods and Examples | HBS Online

Determining the fair grocery store value of a party can be a complex tax. There are many factors to consider, but it ‘s an important fiscal skill businesses leaders need to succeed. so, how do finance professionals evaluate assets to identify one number ?
Below is an exploration of some common fiscal terms and methods used to value businesses, and why some companies might be valued highly, despite being relatively small .

What Is Company Valuation?

company valuation, besides known as business valuation, is the march of assessing the total economic value of a business and its assets. During this summons, all aspects of a occupation are evaluated to determine the current deserving of an administration or department. The valuation procedure takes space for a diverseness of reasons, such as determining sale value and tax report .
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How to Valuate a Business

One direction to calculate a commercial enterprise ’ s valuation is to subtract liabilities from assets. however, this bare method doesn ’ triiodothyronine always provide the wide video of a party ’ second value. This is why several early methods exist .
hera ’ s a spirit at six clientele valuation methods that provide insight into a caller ’ s fiscal stand, including koran respect, discounted cash flow analysis, commercialize capitalization, enterprise prize, earnings, and the introduce value of a growing perpetuity recipe .

1. Book Value

One of the most aboveboard methods of valuing a company is to calculate its book value using information from its balance sheet. Due to the simplicity of this method, however, it ’ randomness notably unreliable .
To calculate record value, start by subtracting the party ’ randomness liabilities from its assets to determine owners ’ equity. then exclude any intangible assets. The figure you ’ re forget with represents the value of any tangible assets the caller owns .
As Harvard Business School Professor Mihir Desai mentions in the on-line course Leading with Finance, libra sheet figures can ’ thymine be equated with value due to historical monetary value account and the principle of conservatism. Relying on basic accounting metrics does n’t paint an accurate word picture of a business ’ mho true rate .

2. Discounted Cash Flows

Another method acting of valuing a caller is with dismiss cash flows. This technique is highlighted in the Leading with Finance as the gold standard of valuation .
Discounted cash run psychoanalysis is the process of estimating the value of a company or investment based on the money, or cash flows, it’s expected to generate in the future. Discounted cash stream analysis calculates the present value of future cash flows based on the discount rate and time period of analysis .
Discounted Cash Flow =
Terminal Cash Flow / (1 + Cost of Capital) # of Years in the Future
The benefit of discounted cash flow psychoanalysis is that it reflects a company ’ mho ability to generate liquid assets. however, the challenge of this type of evaluation is that its accuracy relies on the terminal value, which can vary depending on the assumptions you make about future growth and discount rates .

3. Market Capitalization

Market capitalization is one of the simplest measures of a publicly traded party ‘s measure. It ’ mho calculated by multiplying the total number of shares by the current share price .
Market Capitalization = Share Price x Total Number of Shares
One of the shortcomings of market capitalization is that it alone accounts for the value of equity, while most companies are financed by a combination of debt and equity .
In this case, debt represents investments by banks or bind investors in the future of the caller ; these liabilities are paid back with matter to over time. Equity represents shareholders who own stock in the company and hold a claim to future profits .
Let ‘s take a attend at enterprise values—a more accurate measure of party measure that takes these differing capital structures into account .

4. Enterprise Value

The enterprise measure is calculated by combining a company’s debt and equity and then subtracting the amount of cash not used to fund business operations.
Enterprise Value = Debt + Equity – Cash
To illustrate this, let ’ s take a expect at three well-known cable car manufacturers : Tesla, Ford, and General Motors ( GM ) .
In 2016, Tesla had a market capitalization of $ 50.5 billion. On top of that, its balance sheet showed liabilities of $ 17.5 billion. The company besides had around $ 3.5 billion in cash in its accounts, giving Tesla an enterprise rate of approximately $ 64.5 billion .
Ford had a market capitalization of $ 44.8 billion, great liabilities of $ 208.7 billion, and a cash balance of $ 15.9 billion, leaving an enterprise value of approximately $ 237.6 billion.

last, GM had a grocery store capitalization of $ 51 billion, balance sheet liabilities of $ 177.8 billion, and a cash balance of $ 13 billion, leaving an enterprise prize of approximately $ 215.8 billion .
While Tesla ‘s grocery store capitalization is higher than both Ford and GM, Tesla is besides financed more from equity. In fact, 74 percentage of Tesla ’ s assets have been financed with equity, while Ford and GM have capital structures that trust much more on debt. closely 18 percentage of Ford ‘s assets are financed with equity, and 22.3 percentage of GM ‘s .


When examining earnings, fiscal analysts do n’t like to look at the raw net income profitableness of a company. It ’ randomness much manipulated in a batch of ways by the conventions of accountancy, and some can evening distort the true picture .
To start with, the tax policies of a state seem like a distraction from the actual success of a company. They can vary across countries or time, evening if nothing actually changes in the company ’ s operational capabilities. Second, net income subtracts interest payments to debt holders, which can make organizations look more or less successful based entirely on their capital structures. Given these considerations, both are added back to arrive at EBIT ( Earnings Before Interest and Taxes ), or “ operating earnings. ”
In normal accounting, if a company purchases equipment or a build, it does n’t record that transaction all at once. The business alternatively charges itself an expense called depreciation over fourth dimension. amortization is the same thing as disparagement but for things like patents and intellectual property. In both instances, no actual money is spent on the expense .
In some ways, disparagement and amortization can make the earnings of a quickly growing company look worse than a declining one. Behemoth brands, like Amazon and Tesla, are more susceptible to this distortion since they own several warehouses and factories that depreciate in value over time .
With an sympathize of how to arrive at EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) for each caller, it ’ s easier to explore ratios .
According to the Capital IQ database, Tesla had an Enterprise Value to EBITDA proportion of 36x. Ford ‘s is 15x, and GM ‘s is 6x. But what do these ratios mean ?

6. Present Value of a Growing Perpetuity Formula

One way to think about these ratios is as depart of the growing perpetuity equality. A growing perpetuity is a kind of financial instrument that pays out a certain amount of money each year—which also grows annually. Imagine a stipend for retirement that needs to grow every year to match inflation. The growing perpetuity equality enables you to find out today ’ s value for that sort of fiscal legal document .
The value of a growing perpetuity is calculated by dividing cash menstruate by the cost of capital minus the emergence rate .
Value of a Growing Perpetuity = Cash Flow / (Cost of Capital – Growth Rate)
so, if person planning to retire wanted to receive $ 30,000 per annum, everlastingly, with a deduction rate of 10 percentage and an annual growth rate of two percentage to cover expected inflation, they would need $ 375,000—the award value of that arrangement .
What does this have to do with companies ? Imagine the EBITDA of a company as a growing perpetuity paid out every year to the constitution ’ s capital holders. If a company can be thought of as a flow of cash flows that grow annually, and you know the dismiss rate ( which is that company ’ second cost of capital ), you can use this equality to quickly determine the company ’ s enterprise value .
To do this, you ’ ll need some algebra to convert your ratios. For exemplar, if you take Tesla with an enterprise to EBITDA proportion of 36x, that means the enterprise value of Tesla is 36 times higher than its EBITDA .
If you look at the growing perpetuity convention and use EBITDA as the cash flow and enterprise rate as what you ’ re trying to solve for in this equation, then you know that whatever you ’ ra dividing ebitda by is going to give you an solution that is 36 times the numerator .
To find the enterprise value to EBITDA proportion, function this formula : enterprise prize equals EBITDA divided by one over proportion. spark plug in the enterprise measure and EBITDA values to solve for the ratio .
Enterprise Value = EBITDA / (1 / Ratio)
In other words, the denominator needs to be one thirty-sixth, or 2.8 percentage. If you repeat this exercise with Ford, you would find a denominator of one-fifteenth, or 6.7 percentage. For GM, it would be one-sixth, or 16.7 percentage .
Plugging it back into the original equality, the percentage is peer to the cost of capital. You could then imagine that Tesla might have a cost of capital of 20 percentage and a growth rate of 17.2 percentage .
The ratio does n’t tell you precisely, but one thing it does highlight is that the market believes Tesla ‘s future growth rate will be finale to its cost of capital. Tesla ‘s beginning quarter sales were 69 percentage higher than this time concluding year.

The Power of Growth

In finance, growth is powerful. It explains why a smaller party like Tesla carries a high enterprise value. The market has taken notice that, while Tesla is a lot smaller today than Ford or GM in total enterprise value and revenues, that may not constantly be the subject .
If you want to advance your understanding of financial concepts like company valuation, explore our six-week online course Leading with Finance and other finance and accounting courses to discover how you can develop the intuition to make better financial decisions.
This mail was updated on April 22, 2022. It was originally published on April 21, 2017 .

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