Asset Management

Book Value: Definition, Formula, Calculation Simply Explained With Examples

Last updated Tuesday, January 3, 2023

In the accounting world, assets and debts are not always worth their market price. Instead, everything has its book value which is used to keep track of accounting valuation and much more—read on to find out everything.

Book Value Definition Explained

When assessing book value, businesses offset the asset's depreciation against the cost on their balance sheets.

Therefore, book value may also be seen as a firm's net asset value (NAV), which is determined by subtracting liabilities and intangible assets (such as goodwill and patents) from its total assets.

For an initial investment, the book value may be gross or net of expenditures like trading fees, sales taxes, service fees, and so on.

The calculation’s fairly simple: the entire common shareholders' equity less the preferred stock is divided by the total number of the company's common shares to arrive at book value per share.

Book value/share formula

Book value per share = Total equity - preferred stock / number of shares.

Main Takeaways

  • The net difference between a firm's entire assets and liabilities is the book value of that company. Book value represents the total worth of a company's assets that shareholders would get if the company were to be liquidated.
  • The book value of an asset equals its carrying value on the balance sheet.
  • A company's or asset's book value is frequently less than its market value.
  • The fundamental analysis makes use of the price-to-book (P/B) ratio and book value per share (BVPS).

Everything To Know About Book Value

All claims superior to common equity (such as the company's liabilities) are deducted from the accounting value of the company's assets to determine book value.

The accounting practice of documenting asset value at the original historical cost in the books is where the phrase "book value" originates.

By accounting standards, the book value of an asset may remain constant over time, but the cumulative earnings from asset use might cause the book value of a firm to increase.

Comparing the book value and market value of shares can be a useful valuation approach for determining if shares are properly priced because a company's book value indicates the shareholding worth.

As a company's accounting value, book value serves two purposes in particular:

  • It acts as the entire amount of assets that would potentially be distributed to shareholders in the event that a firm is liquidated.
  • Book value may show if a stock is underpriced or overpriced when compared to the company's market value.

Per-Share Book Value

A way to determine a company's per-share book value is called book value per share (BVPS), and it is based on the equity held by the company's common shareholders.

In the event of a firm liquidation, the book value per common share is the monetary amount that would remain for common shareholders after all assets have been sold and all debts have been settled. A company's stock may be deemed cheap if its BVPS is greater than its market value per share.

In terms of personal finance, the cost of a security or debt investment is its book value. The capital gain or loss on an investment is calculated when a firm sells shares by deducting the selling price from the book value.

Mark-to-Market Value Assessment

When mark-to-market valuation is not used with assets that may see gains or declines in their market prices, there are limits to how precisely book value may be a proxy for the shares' market value.

For instance, a company's real estate holdings may occasionally increase in market value while its outdated machinery may decrease in value due to technical improvements.

In these situations, a company's or an asset's genuine worth, given its fair market price, would be distorted by book value at the previous cost.

The Ratio Of Price-To-Book

When similar firms in the same sector utilize a consistent accounting system for asset valuation, the price-to-book (P/B) ratio can be a helpful valuation multiple for comparing values between them.

When comparing businesses from various sectors and industries, where some may record their assets at historical costs while others mark them to market, the ratio could not be a reliable basis for value.

So, a high P/B ratio would not definitely indicate a premium valuation, and a low P/B ratio would not necessarily indicate a discount value.

What Does The Term "Book Value" Mean?

The term "book value" derives from informal accounting in which the balance sheet is often referred to as a company's "books." In fact, bookkeeping used to be the name for accounting. As a result, book value and accounting value are equivalent.

Read more about The differences between Bookkeeping And Accounting.

A Price-To-Book Ratio Of 1.0: What Does It Mean?

The market price of a company's shares is precisely equal to its book value when the P/B ratio is 1.0. Since a company's market price typically carries a premium above book value, for value investors, this may indicate a solid buy.

Why Does the Market Value Frequently Exceed the Book Value?

Only the cost to liquidate a company's fixed assets and securities is taken into account in book value. Intangible assets like goodwill, brand value, and intellectual property are not taken into account. Human capital and the skills of the workforce are also not taken into account.

Additionally, accounting doesn't take into consideration how a company's assets will provide revenues and growth over time. As a result, the market value, which accounts for all of these factors, will often be greater than the book value.

As we can see from above, the valuation of assets is not as exact as one might think. Accountants always calculate with book value, even if that means assuming a discount on the true market value of their firms’ assets.

Because of that, book value can not only help investors assess a company’s worth but can also shed light on share discounts and various other factors.

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