Investor's wiki

Asset Valuation

Asset Valuation

What is Asset Valuation?

Asset valuation is the process of determining the fair market or present value of assets, utilizing book values, absolute valuation models like discounted cash flow analysis, option pricing models or comparables. Such assets include investments in marketable securities like stocks, bonds and options; tangible assets like structures and equipment; or intangible assets like brands, patents and trademarks.

Understanding Asset Valuation

Asset valuation plays a key role in finance and often comprises of both subjective and objective measurements. The value of a company's fixed assets - which are otherwise called capital assets or property plant and equipment - are direct to value, based on their book values and replacement costs. However, there's no number on the financial statements that tell investors exactly how much a company's brand and intellectual property are worth. Companies can overvalue goodwill in a acquisition as the valuation of intangible assets is subjective and can be hard to measure.

Net Asset Value

The net asset value - otherwise called net tangible assets - is the book value of tangible assets on the balance sheet (their historical cost minus the accumulated depreciation) less intangible assets and liabilities - or the money that would be left over assuming the company was liquidated. This is the base a company is worth and can provide a useful floor for a company's asset value because it excludes intangible assets. A stock would be considered undervalued in the event that its market value were below book value, and that means the stock is trading at a deep discount to book value per share.

However, the market value for an asset is likely to differ altogether from book value - or shareholders' equity - which is based on historical cost. What's more, some companies' greatest value is in their intangible assets, like the discoveries of a biomedical research company.

Absolute Valuation Methods

Absolute value models value assets based exclusively on the characteristics of that asset. These models are known as discounted cash flow (DCF) models, and value assets like stocks, bonds and real estate, based on their future cash flows and the opportunity cost of capital. They include:

  • Discounted dividend models, which value a stock's price by discounting predicted dividends to the present value. On the off chance that the value obtained from the DDM is higher than the current trading price of shares, then the stock is undervalued.
  • Discounted free cash flow models calculate the present value of future free cash flow projections, discounted by the weighted average cost of capital.
  • Residual income valuation models consider every one of the cash flows that accrue to the firm post the payment to suppliers and other outside parties. The value of the company is the sum of book value and the present value of expected future residual income. Residual income is calculated as net income less a charge for the cost of capital. The charge is known as the equity charge and is calculated as the value of equity capital multiplied by the cost of equity or the required rate of return on equity. Given the opportunity cost of equity, a company can have positive net income however negative residual income.
  • Discounted asset models value a company by working out the present market value of the assets it claims. As this method does not take into account any synergies, it's just useful for esteeming commodity businesses like mining companies.

Relative Valuation and Comparable Transactions

Relative valuation models determine the value based on the observation of market prices of comparative assets. For example, one approach to determining the value of a property is to compare it with comparative properties in the same area. Likewise, investors use the price multiples comparable public companies trade at to get an idea of relative market valuations. Stocks are often valued based on comparable valuation metrics, for example, the price-to-earnings ratio (P/E ratio), price-to-book ratio or the price-to-cash flow ratio.

This method is additionally used to value illiquid assets like private companies with no market price. Venture capitalists refer to esteeming a company's stock before it goes public as pre-money valuation. By taking a gander at the sums paid for comparable companies in past transactions, investors get an indication of an unlisted company's potential value. This is called precedent transaction analysis.

Real World Example of Asset Valuation

Let's work out net asset value for Alphabet Inc. (GOOG), the parent company of search engine and advertising goliath Google.

All figures are for the period ending Dec. 31, 2018.

  • Total assets: $232.8 billion
  • Total intangible assets: $2.2 billion
  • Total liabilities: $55.2 billion

Total net asset value: $175.4 billion (total assets $232.8 billion - total intangible assets $2.2 billion - total liabilities $55.2 billion)


  • Net asset value is the book value of tangible assets, less intangible assets and liabilities.
  • Asset valuation is the process of determining the fair market value of an asset.
  • Asset valuation often comprises of both subjective and objective measurements.
  • Relative valuation ratios, like the P/E ratio, help investors determine asset valuation by comparing comparative assets.
  • Absolute value models value assets based exclusively on the characteristics of that asset, for example, discounted dividend, discounted free cash flow, residential income and discounted asset models.