by 5paisa Research Team Last Updated: 2023-09-12T14:23:30+05:30
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Book value is a stock's net asset value. Many well-known investors utilise book value to evaluate a stock's fair value, which helps them make investing decisions.

Assessing the actual value of a publicly traded company can be a challenging undertaking. Book value is one such commonly used approach.

Book Value in Stocks


What Is Book Value?

Book value, also known as shareholder's equity, is a financial metric that reflects the company’s net worth. It represents the value of a company's assets available to pay off its liabilities. Essentially, it is the value left over for shareholders after selling all the company's assets and paying off its debts.

To calculate book value, a company's total assets are subtracted from its total liabilities. The resulting figure represents the amount of money available to distribute among shareholders if the owners liquidate the company. It is important to note that book value is a historical accounting value and does not necessarily reflect a company's current market value or future potential.


Understanding Book Value

Book value is a financial metric that represents the accounting value of a company's assets after deducting all claims senior to common equity, such as liabilities. This term is derived from the accounting practice of recording asset value at the original historical cost in the books. While the book value of an asset may stay the same over time, the book value of a company can grow as a result of the accumulation of earnings generated through asset use.

Since a company's book value represents the worth of its shares, it can serve as an effective valuation technique when compared to the market value of the shares to determine if they are fairly priced. Book value has two main uses in accounting. First and foremost, it allows shareholders to determine how much their equity would be worth in the event of a liquidation of a company. Secondly, when compared to the market value of the company, book value can indicate whether a stock is underpriced or overpriced.

However, it is essential to note that book value should not be the sole factor used to evaluate a company's worth. This is because book value does not take into account the company's future growth potential, market conditions, and other essential factors that affect a company's market value. Therefore, investors and analysts should use multiple valuation techniques to make an informed investment decision.

Book Value per Share (BVPS)

Book value per share (BVPS) is a financial metric used to determine the per-share book value of a company's common shareholders' equity. If a company dissolves and all assets are liquidated and the debtors are paid, BVPS can be used to determine how much money each shareholder would receive.

If a company's BVPS is higher than its market value per share, it may indicate that the stock is undervalued. This means that the current stock price does not reflect the true value of the company's assets and earnings potential.

Theoretically, BVPS represents the total sum that shareholders would receive if the company was liquidated and all tangible assets were sold, and liabilities were paid. However, as the assets would be sold at market prices, the market value is considered a better floor price than the book value for a company.

The formula for BVPS is:

Book Value Per Share = (Shareholders’ Equity – Preferred Equity) / Weighted Average of Common Shares Outstanding

Price-to-Book (P/B) Ratio

The price-to-book (P/B) ratio is a valuation multiple that can be used to compare the value of similar companies within the same industry. However, it is important to note that this ratio may not serve as a valid valuation basis when comparing companies from different sectors and industries.

This is because companies may follow different accounting methods for evaluating the book value of an asset, with some companies recording their assets at historical costs while others mark their assets to market. Therefore, a high P/B ratio may not always indicate a premium valuation and a low P/B ratio may not necessarily indicate a discount valuation.

Importance of Book Value

Now that you’re familiar with book value meaning, let’s take a look at some reasons why book value is important.

●    Asset valuation: Book value provides an accurate assessment of a company's assets and liabilities, giving investors a clear understanding of the company's financial position. By subtracting the liabilities from the assets, investors can determine the company's net worth.

●    Investment decision-making: Book value can be used to evaluate the potential profitability of an investment. If the market value of a company's shares is lower than its book value per share, it may indicate that the stock is undervalued and presents a good investment opportunity.

●    Liquidity assessment: Book value can help investors assess a company's ability to meet its financial obligations. If the book value of a company's assets exceeds its liabilities, it indicates that the company has a positive net worth and is financially stable.

●    Risk management: Book value can be used to determine the level of risk associated with an investment. A company with a high book value per share is generally considered to be less risky than a company with a low book value per share.

Limitations of Book Value

After learning the book value definition, take a look at some of the limitations of book value.

●    Periodic publishing: Book value is typically calculated and published periodically, such as quarterly or annually. This means that it may not reflect the current market value of a company's assets and liabilities.

●    Historical costing: Book value is calculated using historical costs, which may not reflect the current market value of a company's assets. This can lead to an inaccurate valuation of a company's worth.

●    Not accurate for human-intensive companies: Book value does not account for intangible assets such as a company's workforce or intellectual property. This can be a significant limitation for human-intensive companies where the value of the company's workforce is a significant factor in its overall value.

●    Sector-specific limitations: Book value may not be applicable for companies operating in certain sectors such as technology or pharmaceuticals, where the value of the company's intellectual property and research and development activities can be a significant factor in its overall value.

Book Value versus Market Value

Book value represents a company's worth based on its financial statements, while market value is determined by the perceived worth of a company by the market. 

When the market value of a company is higher than its book value, it suggests that the stock market values the company's potential for future earnings or its management's ability to create value. 

On the other hand, if a company's book value is higher than its market value, it may indicate that the market is less confident in the company's earning potential, despite its high book value. This could be due to a range of negative factors, such as poor management or declining profitability. Ultimately, investors should consider both book value and market value, along with other factors, when evaluating a company's investment potential.

How to Calculate Book Value?

To calculate book value, the total value of a company's assets is subtracted from its liabilities. This includes both current and fixed assets and liabilities. The book value formula can be expressed as:

Book value = Total Assets – Total Liabilities

However, some analysts exclude intangible assets when evaluating book value because their value cannot be realized during a company's liquidation. In such cases, the book value formula is expressed as:

Book value = Total Assets – (Intangible Assets + Total Liabilities)


Book value is a financial metric used to determine a company's value, but investors should be cautious of relying solely on it as it may not fully represent all aspects of a company's assets.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Book value is derived from the term "books" used in accounting to refer to the balance sheet of a company. Accounting was previously known as bookkeeping, so book value can be synonymous with accounting value.

The market is considered to be underpricing a stock if the P/B is below 1.0 because its accounting value is greater than its market price.

Since market value takes into account profitability, intangibles, and future growth prospects, it tends to exceed book value.