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Calculating company valuations. Everything there is to know

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur, an investor, or simply someone interested in finance? If yes, understanding the nitty-gritty of company valuation is an essential skill for you. It not only serves as a critical yardstick for when you’re making investments, but can also shed light on a company’s intrinsic financial health, growth potential, and competitive position in the market.

In this article, we will delve into the fundamental reasons why company valuations are of paramount importance, and learn about a few ways in which you can go about calculating a company’s worth on your own.

Introduction to business valuation

The business valuation, also known as the company valuation, is used to determine an entire company’s worth or the value of any one of its departments or components.

One might want to estimate the value of a company to find out the sale value, bring on new equity partners, pay taxes to the government, or even settle legal proceedings.

Usually, valuation calculations are done when companies are looking to merge with other entities, are selling off a portion of themselves, or acquiring a different business.

Valuation also includes estimating the worth of the management of the business, its current profit-making capabilities, and its appeal to potential investors.

How to calculate company valuation?

Financial experts haven’t yet agreed on one single best way to value a company, so there are lots of methods to choose from. Let’s get into them one by one.

Book value

This is one of the most straightforward methods to calculate company valuation. To calculate a company’s book value, subtract the company’s liabilities from its assets to determine shareholder’s equity. This is the value of a company on its books. You might also exclude the value of intangibles to quantify the tangible assets.

While calculating book value is the traditional way of valuing a company, it is not always accurate. This is because historical cost accounting and conservative principles do not accurately represent the company’s current financial health and future money-making prospects. Additionally, the company’s management has an incentive to falsely represent numbers on paper, leading to inaccuracies.

Hence, the formula is:

Valuation = Assets – Liabilities.

Discounted Cash Flows

This method comes close to the gold standard in company valuations. It values the company based on the expected cash flows. As per the discounted cash flows method, valuation is a function of the present value of future cash flows based on the discount rate and period of analysis. 

In simpler words, this method is like counting all the money a company will make in the future and then shrinking that number down to how much that future money is worth today.

This is what the formula looks like:

Valuation = Terminal Cash Flow/ (1+Cost of Capital) ^ Number of Years

Market capitalisation

This kind of valuation depends on how big the company is – that is, what its share in the industry is. While market cap might be tricky to gauge for privately owned companies, this information is readily and reliably available publicly for listed companies.

Here’s what the formula looks like:

Valuation = Share Price * Total Number of Shares.

Market cap valuations are used frequently in stock trading to gauge the potential volatility of a stock. This method usually takes into account the financial health, future earnings potential, and external factors’ effect on the share price. However, a major shortcoming is that it only accounts for the company’s equity valuation, and disregards debt.

Enterprise value

The enterprise value is calculated by combining a company’s debt and equity and then subtracting the amount of cash not used to fund business operations. 

Simply, this means that you add up the equity value of the company at its present market rate and all the money that the company has borrowed. Now, deduct any cash that this company has that isn’t earmarked for use in business. This cash can theoretically be used to pay off some of the debt. In the end, you get the enterprise value, which tells you how much you’d need to pay to take over the whole company, including its debts and everything.

Hence, the formula is pretty straightforward:

Enterprise Value = Debt + Equity – Cash.

Things to keep in mind

Knowing how to calculate a company’s valuation is crucial for grasping the actual value of an investment. Investing in a security that’s overvalued can put your invested capital at risk. Thus, in addition to fundamental analysis, assessing investment feasibility relies on company valuation and ratio analysis, at the same time.

Also because company valuations involve complex assumptions and personal judgment, it is suggested to use at least two or three different models to evaluate securities and cross-verify the results to mitigate potential inaccuracies. 


What are the three approaches for calculating the value of a business?

The asset approach, earnings approach and market value approach are the most popular ones for company valuations. While the asset approach deals with the value of a company’s assets, the earnings approach uses the company’s potential to earn revenue. Market capital, on the other hand, values companies by comparing them to other similar companies in the market.

What is the difference between DCF and relative valuation?

Discounted cash flow is a company valuation method that uses the asset’s potential to generate present and future cash flows. Relative valuation, as the term suggests, compares the assets of a company with other assets in the market and assigns a value accordingly.

Is DCF a good valuation technique?

DCF is considered one of the best techniques for company valuation since it includes all the fundamental numbers that drive the business. However, it is ideal to use other methods to verify the valuation’s accuracy.

What are the disadvantages of company valuation methods?

Company valuations involve multiple assumptions, which can often lead to inaccuracies in numbers. Also, the interpretation of such numbers is highly subjective, creating inconsistencies in the way companies are valued.

What is the difference between market capitalisation and market valuation?

While market capitalisation is specific to the shares of a company, market valuation is a broader concept that uses the company’s assets, revenue and other factors to value companies. Market capitalisation is one of the ways of market valuations

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