Top positive review
Training Wheels for Valuation . . .
Reviewed in the United States on May 8, 2011
This book echoes some of the author's earlier works but whereas his other books are largely geared towards professional practitioners, The Little Book of Valuation is targeted at individual investors.
In my opinion, Damodaran has carved a unique niche among authors of this genre. As a professor at a respected university, his books always draw on a solid theoretical foundation. A lot of other authors do the same. Where I think he distinguishes himself is the ability to bring pragmatic, real world slant to these topics. I have found his publications to be very readable yet hardly "dumbed down". In fact, I think this particular volume would make a great introduction on valuation for aspiring MBAs and finance students.
The Little Book of Valuation starts by explaining the nuts and bolts of finance including topics such as time value of money and the concept of risk. A short explanation of financial statements is also included. Damodaran then goes on to describe intrinsic valuations including the subtle differences between cash flows to equity holders versus cash flow to the firm. Along with that the appropriate discount rates that apply to each are also explained. The book then quickly compares intrinsic valuation to relative valuation methodologies, stressing along the way the merits and disadvantages of each. When using multiples (price/earnings, price/book, price/sales) to do comparative valuations, he points out which financial metrics are the underlying drivers for each multiple.
From there, the book delves further into subtopics such as valuing companies at different stages in their life cycles: early stage companies, mature companies and declining companies. There are also separate chapters that discuss valuation issues/techniques for banks and other financial entities, cyclical/commodity companies and a final chapter on valuing companies with significant intangibles.
While the nature of the "Little Book" series means that they will be succinct and perhaps a little light on mind-numbing detail, I think this particular volume provides a very readable, even-handed approach to the topic of valuing financial assets. Damodaran consistently provides examples after he makes a point. Furthermore, the examples are real life rather than hypothetical situations.
I struggled to get through the Copeland tome on Valuation. I wish Professor Damodaran had published his Little Book of Valuation years earlier . . . it would have been like having a nice set of training wheels to get me started . . . .