Saturday, 23 March 2013

Back to Apple: Thoughts on value, price and the confidence gap

By Aswath Damodaran

I know that you are probably sick and tired of reading about Apple, and I am getting close to that point too, but this post is really more about investing than it is about Apple. In my post on Apple on January 27, I also posted "my" distribution of value for Apple, concluding that there was a 90% chance that Apple was under valued. One of the responses I got was interesting and it questioned the courage of my convictions by asking why, if I believed that there was a 90% chance that the stock was under valued, I would not "bet the house" (I put a 10% cap on Apple in my portfolio). That, of course, gives me a platform to return to a theme that I have harped on for much of the last year: that valuation and pricing are two very different processes and that many analysts/investors often being confident about one does not imply confidence about the other.

To set the table for the comparison, let me start with my assessment of the differences between the valuation and pricing processes.

  • The value of a business is determined by the magnitude of its cash flows, the risk/uncertainty of these cash flows and the expected level & efficiency of the growth that the business will deliver. While discounted cash flow valuation may be one way of estimating this value, there are other intrinsic value approaches that also try to do the same thing: estimate the intrinsic or fair value of a business. 
  • The price of a publicly traded asset (stock) is set by demand and supply, and while the value of the business may be one input into the process, it is one of many forces and it may not even be the dominant force. The push and pull of the market (momentums, fads and other pricing forces) and liquidity (or the lack thereof) can cause prices to have a dynamic entirely their own, which can lead to the market price being different from value.  

Read full article here and our valuation of Apple in September last year here

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