The Role of Book Value in Equity Valuation: Does the Stock Variable Merely Proxy for Relevant Past Flows?

30 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 1998

See all articles by K.R. Subramanyam

K.R. Subramanyam

University of Southern California - Leventhal School of Accounting

Mohan Venkatachalam

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Date Written: June 1998

Abstract

We propose an alternative explanation for the value-relevance of book value. Specifically, we suggest that book value can have an indirect role in valuation even under an earnings capitalization framework. We first show that past earnings are relevant for valuation (in addition to current earnings) when earnings have transitory components. Next, we argue that book value may correlate with stock price simply because it aggregates past (and current) earnings. That is, the stock variable does not have a direct role in valuation (in the sense of representing the net assets of the firm). Rather, its role arises indirectly because it proxies for past flows. Our findings are consistent with our predictions. We find that past earnings provide incremental explanatory power beyond that provided by current earnings. More important, we find that a model of current and past earnings outperforms a model of current earnings and book value in terms of explanatory power. Our results are striking when we split our sample into profit firms and loss firms. For profit firms we report that book value provides no incremental explanatory power beyond that provided by current and past earnings. However, for loss firms book value provides significant incremental explanatory power while current and past earnings provide only marginal explanatory power. This suggests a very restrictive direct role for book value in equity valuation, that is as a proxy for the firm's abandonment or liquidation value.

JEL Classification: M41, G12

Suggested Citation

Subramanyam, K.R. and Venkatachalam, Mohan, The Role of Book Value in Equity Valuation: Does the Stock Variable Merely Proxy for Relevant Past Flows? (June 1998). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=113388 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.113388

K.R. Subramanyam (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Leventhal School of Accounting ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089-0441
United States
213-740-5017 (Phone)
213-747-2815 (Fax)

Mohan Venkatachalam

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
919-660-7859 (Phone)
919-660-7971 (Fax)

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