When trying to figure out which valuation method to use to value a stock for the first time, most investors will quickly discover the overwhelming number of valuation techniques available to them today. There are the simple to use ones, such as the comparable method, and there are the more involved methods, such as the discounted cash flow model. Which one should you use? Unfortunately, there is no one method that is best suited for every situation. Each stock is different, and each industry sector has unique properties that may require varying valuation approaches. The good news is that this article will attempt to explain the general cases of when to use most of the valuation methods.
Two Categories of Valuation Model.
Valuation methods typically fall into two main categories: absolute and relative valuation models. Absolute valuation models attempt to find the intrinsic or "true" value of an investment based only on fundamentals. Looking at fundamentals simply mean you would only focus on such things as dividends, cash flow and growth rate for a single company, and not worry about any other companies. Valuation models that fall into this category include the dividend discount model, discounted cash flow model, residual income models and asset-based models.
In contrast to absolute valuation models, relative valuation models operate by comparing the company in question to other similar companies. These methods generally involve calculating multiples or ratios, such as the price-to-earnings multiple, and comparing them to the multiples of other comparable firms. For instance, if the P/E of the firm you are trying to value is lower than the P/E multiple of a comparable firm, that company may be said to be relatively undervalued. Generally, this type of valuation is a lot easier and quicker to do than the absolute valuation methods, which is why many investors and analysts start their analysis with this method.