IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/14548.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

What is a Company Really Worth? Intangible Capital and the "Market to Book Value" Puzzle

Author

Listed:
  • Charles R. Hulten
  • Xiaohui Hao

Abstract

"What is a company really worth?" is a question asked repeatedly during the recent financial crisis. Attention has been focused on short-term valuation issues, like the "mark-to-market" controversy. Sorting out these issues is complicated by the fact that the market puts a value on shareholder equity that is consistently more than twice the reported book value of a company. Numerous observers have pointed to the absence of most intangible assets from financial statements as an important source of this puzzle. We use Compustat financial data for 617 R&D intensive firms to test this possibility. We find that conventional book value alone explains only 31 percent of the market capitalization of these firms in 2006, and that this increases to 75 percent when our estimates of intangible capital are included. The debt-equity ratio also falls from 1.46 to 0.61. These findings suggest that financial reports tend to substantially understate the long-run intrinsic value of corporate America.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles R. Hulten & Xiaohui Hao, 2008. "What is a Company Really Worth? Intangible Capital and the "Market to Book Value" Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 14548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14548
    Note: PR
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14548.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ayanian, Robert, 1983. "The Advertising Capital Controversy," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(3), pages 349-364, July.
    2. Robert E. Hall, 2001. "The Stock Market and Capital Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1185-1202, December.
    3. Baruch Lev, 2003. "Remarks on the measurement, valuation, and reporting of intangible assets," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sep, pages 17-22.
    4. Carol Corrado & Charles Hulten & Daniel Sichel, 2005. "Measuring Capital and Technology: An Expanded Framework," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Capital in the New Economy, pages 11-46, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1351-1408.
    6. Carol Corrado & Charles Hulten & Daniel Sichel, 2009. "Intangible Capital And U.S. Economic Growth," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(3), pages 661-685, September.
    7. Sandra E. Black & Lisa M. Lynch, 2005. "Measuring Organizational Capital in the New Economy," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Capital in the New Economy, pages 205-236, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Bronwyn H. Hall, 2010. "Measuring the Returns to R&D: The Depreciation Problem," NBER Chapters, in: Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches, pages 341-381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Charles Ian Mead, 2007. "R&D Depreciation Rates in the 2007 R&D Satellite Account," BEA Papers 0084, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    10. Robert E. Hall, 2000. "E-Capital: The Link between the Stock Market and the Labor Market in the 1990s," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(2), pages 73-118.
    11. Gadi Barlevy, 2007. "On the Cyclicality of Research and Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1131-1164, September.
    12. Carol Corrado & John Haltiwanger & Daniel Sichel, 2005. "Measuring Capital in the New Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number corr05-1.
    13. Black, Sandra E & Lynch, Lisa M, 1996. "Human-Capital Investments and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 263-267, May.
    14. Henry G. Grabowksi & Dennis C. Mueller, 1978. "Industrial Research and Development, Intangible Capital Stocks, and Firm Profit Rates," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 328-343, Autumn.
    15. Bronwyn H. Hall & Robert E. Hall, 1993. "The Value and Performance of U.S. Corporations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 24(1), pages 1-50.
    16. Ernst R. Berndt & Adrian H. B. Gottschalk & Matthew W. Strobeck, 2006. "Opportunities for Improving the Drug Development Process: Results from a Survey of Industry and the FDA," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 6, pages 91-122, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Bernstein, Jeffrey I. & Mamuneas, Theofanis P., 2006. "R&D depreciation, stocks, user costs and productivity growth for US R&D intensive industries," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 70-98, January.
    18. Robert E. Hall, 2001. "Struggling to Understand the Stock Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 1-11, May.
    19. DiMasi, Joseph A. & Hansen, Ronald W. & Grabowski, Henry G., 2003. "The price of innovation: new estimates of drug development costs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 151-185, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Carol Corrado & Charles Hulten & Daniel Sichel, 2009. "Intangible Capital And U.S. Economic Growth," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(3), pages 661-685, September.
    2. Carol Corrado & Charles Hulten & Daniel Sichel, 2005. "Measuring Capital and Technology: An Expanded Framework," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Capital in the New Economy, pages 11-46, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Mitra, Shalini, 2018. "Intangible Capital and the Rise in Wage and Hours Volatility," MPRA Paper 89697, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Keun Lee & Tsutomu Miyagawa & Shigesaburo Kabe & Junhyup Lee & Hyoungjin Kim & Young Gak Kim, 2009. "Management Practices and Firm Performance in Japanese and Korean Firms," Microeconomics Working Papers 22990, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    5. Hall, Bronwyn H. & Mairesse, Jacques & Mohnen, Pierre, 2010. "Measuring the Returns to R&D," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, in: Bronwyn H. Hall & Nathan Rosenberg (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 1033-1082, Elsevier.
    6. Keqiang Hou & Alok Johri, 2018. "Intangible Capital, the Labor Wedge and the Volatility of Corporate Profits," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 29, pages 216-234, July.
    7. Carol Corrado & Jonathan Haskel & Cecilia Jona-Lasinio & Massimiliano Iommi, 2012. "Intangible Capital and Growth in Advanced Economies: Measurement Methods and Comparative Results," Economics Program Working Papers 12-03, The Conference Board, Economics Program.
    8. Kegiang Hou & Alok Johri, 2013. "Intangible Capital and the Excess Volatility of Aggregate Profits," Department of Economics Working Papers 2013-04, McMaster University.
    9. de Rassenfosse, Gaétan & Jaffe, Adam B., 2018. "Econometric evidence on the depreciation of innovations," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 625-642.
    10. Giglio, Stefano & Severo, Tiago, 2012. "Intangible capital, relative asset shortages and bubbles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 303-317.
    11. Carol Coorado & Jonathan Haskel & Cecilia Iona Lasinio & Massimiliano Iommi, 2012. "Intangible Capital and Growth Strategies for Advanced Economies: Measurement and Comparative Results," Working Papers LuissLab 12101, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza, LUISS Guido Carli.
    12. Bart van Ark & Charles R. Hulten, 2007. "Innovation, Intangibles and Economic Growth: Towards A Comprehensive Accounting of the Knowledge Economy," Economics Program Working Papers 07-02, The Conference Board, Economics Program.
    13. Kaus, Wolfhard & Slavtchev, Viktor & Zimmermann, Markus, 2020. "Intangible capital and productivity: Firm-level evidence from German manufacturing," IWH Discussion Papers 1/2020, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    14. Vincent Delbecque & Sylvie Le Laidier & Jacques Mairesse & Laurence Nayman, 2011. "L’évaluation des investissements incorporels en France : méthodes et premiers résultats," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 450(1), pages 3-27.
    15. Lee, Junghoon, 2016. "The impact of idiosyncratic uncertainty when investment opportunities are endogenous," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 105-124.
    16. Cecilia Jona-Lasinio & Valentina Meliciana, 2019. "Global Value Chains and Productivity Growth: Does Intangible Capital Matter?," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 36, pages 53-78, Spring.
    17. Ellen R. McGrattan & Eduard C. Prescott, 2006. "Why Did U.S. Market Hours Boom in the 1990s?," 2006 Meeting Papers 192, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    18. Peters, Ryan H. & Taylor, Lucian A., 2017. "Intangible capital and the investment-q relation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 251-272.
    19. Ewens, Michael & Peters, Ryan & Wang, Sean, 2019. "Measuring Intangible Capital with Market Prices," SocArXiv kvp2f, Center for Open Science.
    20. Gaétan de Rassenfosse & Adam B. Jaffe, 2017. "Econometric Evidence on the R&D Depreciation Rate," NBER Working Papers 23072, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14548. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.