Intangibles: The Missing Ingredient in Book Value

31 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2020 Last revised: 3 Nov 2020

See all articles by Feifei Li

Feifei Li

Research Affiliates, LLC

Date Written: November 2, 2020


We closely examine the impact of adding intangibles to traditional book equity as a more meaningful value measure. Our intangibles-adjusted value metric subsumes the traditional book-to-price metric in explaining cross-sectional equity returns and improves value factor performance across subsample periods and geographic regions. We find knowledge capital (capitalized R&D expenditures) plays a more important role than organization capital (capitalized partial SG&A expenditures). The improved value premium comes from both the long and short sides of intangibles-adjusted HML (iHML), which is good news for investors under a long-only constraint and provides useful information for investors who choose to short or underweight certain names.

Keywords: Intangibles, value investing, value factor, value premium, R&D, organization capital, knowledge capital, HML, iHML

Suggested Citation

Li, Feifei, Intangibles: The Missing Ingredient in Book Value (November 2, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Feifei Li (Contact Author)

Research Affiliates, LLC ( email )

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