The Value of Stocks of a Company

The debate rages all over Eastern and Central Europe, in countries in transition as well as in Western Europe. It raged in Britain during the 80s: Bioderma Is privatization really the robbery in disguise of state assets by a select few, cronies of the political regime? Margaret Thatcher was accuse of it – and so was the Agency of Transformation in the Republic of Macedonia. At what price should the companies owned by the State have been sold? This question is not as simple and straight forward as it sounds.

There is a gigantic stock pricing mechanism known as the Stock Exchange. Willing buyers and willing sellers meet there to freely negotiate deals of stock purchases and sale. Every day new information, bankdeets macro-economic and micro-economic, determines the value of companies.

Greenspan testifies, the economic figures are too good to be true and the rumour mill starts working: interest rates might go up. The stock market reacts with a frenzy – it crashes. Why?

A top executive is asked how profitable will his firm be this quarter. He winks, he grins – this is interpreted by Wall Street to mean that they WILL go up. The share goes up frantically: no one wants to sell it, everyone want to buy it. The result: a sharp rise in the price. Why?

Moreover: the price of the stock prices of companies A with an identical size, similar financial ratios (and in the same industry) barely budges. Why didn’t it display the same behaviour?

We say that the stocks of the two companies have different elasticity (their prices move up and down differently), probably the result of different sensitivities to changes in interest rates and in earnings estimates. But this is just to rename the problem. The question remains: why? Why do the shares of similar companies react differently?

Economy is a branch of psychology and wherever and whenever humans are involved, answers don’t come easy. A few models have been developed and are in wide use but it is difficult to say that any of them has real predictive or even explanatory value. Some of these models are “technical” in nature: they ignore the fundamentals of the company. Such models assume that all the relevant information is already incorporated in the price of the stock and that changes in expectations, ddm hopes, fears and attitudes will be reflected in the prices immediately. Others are fundamental: these models rely on the company’s performance and assets. The former models are applicable mostly to companies whose shares are traded publicly, in stock exchanges. They are not very useful in trying to attach a value to the stock of a private firm. The latter type (fundamental) models can be applied more broadly.

The value of a stock (a bond, a firm, real estate, or any asset) is the sum of the income (cash flow) that a reasonable investor would expect to get in the future, discounted at the appropriate discount (usually, interest) rates. The discounting reflects the fact that money received in the future has lower (discounted) purchasing power than money received now. Moreover, we can invest money received now and get interest on it (which should normally equal the discount). Put differently: 24dollsde the discount reflects the loss in purchasing power of money not received at present or the interest that we lose by not being able to invest the money currently (because we will receive it only in the future). This is the time value of money. Another problem is the uncertainty of future payments, or the risk that we will not receive them. The longer the period, the higher the risk, of course. A model exists which links the time, the value of the stock, the cash flows expected in the future and the discount (interest) rates.

We said that the rate that we use to discount future cash flows is the prevailing interest rate and this is partly true in stable, predictable and certain economies. But the discount rate depends on the inflation rate in the country where the firm is (or in all the countries where it operates in case it is a multinational), on the projected supply of the shares and demand for it and on the aforementioned risk of non-payment. In certain places, additional factors must be taken into consideration (for example: country risk or foreign exchange risks).

The supply of a stock and, to a lesser extent, the demand for it determine its distribution (how many shareowners are there) and, as a result, its liquidity. Liquidity means how freely can one buy and sell it and at which quantities sought or sold do prices become rigid. Example: if a lot of shares is sold that gives the buyer the control of a company – the buyer will normally pay a “control premium”. Another example: in thin markets it is easier to manipulate the price of a stock by artificially increasing the demand or decreasing the supply (“cornering” the market).

In a liquid market (no problems to buy and to sell), realdetroitweekly the discount rate is made up of two elements: one is the risk-free rate (normally, the interest payable on government bonds), the other being the risk related rate (the rate which reflects the risk related to the specific stock).


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