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The Little Book of Valuation: How to Value a Company, Pick a Stock and Profit Hardcover – May 3, 2011
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From the Inside Flap
You buy financial assets for the cash flows you expect to gain. The price of a stock cannot be justified by assuming there will be other investors around who will pay a higher price in the future. That is the equivalent of playing an expensive game of musical chairs. As a prudent investor, you need to value the investment you are considering before buying it.
Valuation is at the heart of any investment decision, whether that decision is to buy, sell, or hold. In The Little Book of Valuation, financial expert Aswath Damodaran explains valuation techniques in everyday language so that even those new to investing can understand. Using this important resource, you can make better investment decisions when reviewing stock research reports and engaging in independent efforts to value and select stocks for your portfolio.
Page by page, Damodaran distills the fundamentals of valuation, without glossing over or ignoring key concepts, and develops models that you can easily understand and implement. He also makes the case that the two popular, and often divergent, approaches (intrinsic and relative) to valuation can be used in tandem. Damodaran discusses how both of these approaches can significantly improve your odds by helping you select stocks that are undervalued not only on an intrinsic level but also on a relative basis.
Once you become familiar with the techniques outlined in this book, you will be able to value a company with confidence. In addition, The Little Book of Valuation:
- Includes illustrative case studies and examples that will help develop your valuation skills
- Puts you in a better position to determine which investments are on track to add real value to your portfolio
- Offers valuable valuation insights from one of the foremost experts in this field
Written with the individual investor in mind, this reliable guide will not only allow you to value a company quickly, but will also help you make sense of valuations done by others or found in comprehensive equity research reports.
From the Back Cover
LITTLE BOOK BIG PROFITS®
THE LITTLE BOOK OF VALUATION
"There is nothing 'little' about Damodaran's The Little Book of Valuation. The whole gamut of ideas that form the basis for all business valuations covered in his many multi-hundred page classics-are all here, with the same rigor, clarity, pointedness, and wit."
Professor Anant K. Sundaram Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College
"The Little Book of Valuation is a great book that I will recommend to my students and friends. This book is an impressive synthesis of sound theory and best practice. It is completely accessible to the novice. It is also an important addition to the professional library of the finance specialist. Acquire it without hesitation."
Pablo Fernandez, Professor of Finance IESE Business School, Spain
"Damodaran's fast read book offers valuable insights for both institutional and sophisticated individual investors. Within the confines of 'intrinsic' (income approach) and 'relative' (market approach) analysis, he identifies the 'value drivers' in several broad categories of stocks and the most important factors to look for, and how to treat them in valuation for each category."
Shannon Pratt Chairman and CEO, Shannon Pratt Valuations
Top customer reviews
For knowledgeable readers the book is less useful. To much time is spent presenting an answer on the mechanics of valuing a company and not enough time is spent on the nuances, tradeoffs, and implications of various valuation assumptions. The mechanics are important, but the book does not really grapple adequately with some of the big difficulties in valuation, which include the selection of discount rates and estimation of terminal value. For example, there is no discussion on merits or otherwise of using the average weighted cost of capital (AWCC) for discounting or presenting any alternatives. I don't claim that the approach is wrong just that it carries certain implications that deserve discussion.
Risk is dealt with simplistically through the discount rate, which is not inherently bad, but alternative actuarial approaches exist that I personally think deserve discussion, if only to inform the reader of the scope of the subject matter. Finally, success is as much about managing risk as it is about placing a value on a business. I feel that this most important point is lost.
Is the book worth reading? Absolutely. However, if you are hoping for a tool kit that will provide you with crystal ball to gaze on the future then you are surely going to be disappointed, because none exists.
This Little Book series of finance books is really excellent, with great writers and high quality content, and if the publishers should ever see my review, I hope they might consider adding a book on stock screening with an assessment of the metrics commonly available. Or is that already "What Works On Wall Street"?
- Explains with clarity the different types of discounted cash flows (annunities, perpetuity, etc).
- Gives good explanation as to the significant metrics behind valuation multiples (ROE in PE, etc, Net PM in P/S, etc).
- Details why you should use historical averages, and not simply the most recently available metric for these calculations.
- Financial institutions are notoriously hard to value, and his method here is probably the best I've come across.
- My biggest complaint is his over-reliance on CAPM beta as a risk-metric. Numerous studies have shown that stocks with low betas routinely out-perform those with high betas, which is the exact opposite of what's supposed to happen, according to financial theory. In fact, the author even briefly glosses over why beta may not be a great metric to use, but then continues to do so through out the entire book. As Buffett says, any time you see finance use a Greek symbol, they're substituting theory for experience.
- Doesn't give any alternatives to beta (WACC is no better, as it also includes beta) towards measuring risk. Should ignore beta completely and simply use the average market return over the past 200 or so years of 8 - 10% (I typically use 9).
- The regression analysis part seems completely out of place in a book like this.
- Likewise, his over-reliance on DCF is borderline absurd. Again, numerous studies have shown that most PROFESSIONAL analyst fail to accurately predict a firm's earnings over a short-term horizon (David Dremen has published many of these studies), so to assume a non-professional investor can with even remote accuracy predict cash flows 10 years into the future is ridiculous.
Overall, it's good for an introduction on discounting cash flows and being able to value a financial institution, but his use of beta and 10 years worth of forecasting is what holds this down.