Apple had become the most effective company in history, using the market capitalization of the business to back the assertion. A few days ago, in a reflection of Apple’s fall from grace, articles in WSJ noted that Google had exceeded Apple’s value, using enterprise value as the way of measuring value.

What are these different measures of value for the same firm? Why do they differ and what do they measure? Which is the best measure of value? What exactly are the different procedures of value? To see the variation between different steps of value, I think it is useful to go back to a balance sheet format, with market values replacing accounting book values. Let’s start with the marketplace value of collateral. Rearranging the financial balance sheet, the marketplace value of collateral procedures the difference between your market value of all assets and the marketplace value of debts.

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The second measure of market value is strong value, the sum of the marketplace value of equity and the market value of debts. Using the balance sheet format again, the market value of the company actions the market’s evaluation of the beliefs of all possessions. The third way of measuring market value nets out the marketplace value of cash & other non-operating property from company value to reach at business value.

With the total amount sheet format, you can see that business value should be add up to the market value of the working assets of the business. One of the features of business value is that it’s relatively immune (though not completely so) from purely financial transactions. To reach at the marketplace values of collateral, firm and enterprise, you need up to date “market” ideals for equity, debts and cash/non-operating resources.

In practice, the only number that you can get on an updated (and current) basis for most companies is the market price of the traded shares. To get from that price to composite market ideals often requires assumptions and approximations, which sometimes are merited but will often lead to organized mistakes in value estimations. Non-traded shares: There are a few publicly traded companies with multiple classes of shares, with a number of of these classes being non-traded. Though these non-traded stocks are often aggregated with the traded stocks to arrive at share count and market cover, the differences in voting rights and dividend payout across share classes can make this a dangerous assumption.

If you presume that the non-traded share have higher voting rights, it is likely to you will understate the marketplace value of collateral by assigning the talk about price of the traded shares to them. Management options: The market value of collateral should include all equity statements on the business, not its common shares just. When there are management options outstanding, they have value, if they’re not traded even, and that value should be put into the market capitalization of the traded shares to arrive at the market value of equity in the business.

For a company like Cisco, this can make a big change in the estimated market value of collateral (and in the ratios like PE that are computed predicated on that market value). Again, using short cuts (such as increase the completely diluted amount of shares by the talk about price to get to market capitalization) will give you shoddy estimates of market value of collateral.

In theory, the company and enterprise ideals of a company should reflect the market value of most debt promises on the business. Off balance sheet debt: To the extent that firms use off-balance sheet personal debt, we will understate the company and business values for these companies. While this may sound like a problem only with esoteric companies that play financing games, it is actually far more prevalent, if you recognize lease commitments as debt.

Most merchants and restaurant companies have considerable lease commitments that needs to be converted into debt for purposes of computing firm or business value. Cash should be easy to value, right? Trapped cash: In the last decade, US companies with global procedures have accumulated cash balances off their foreign procedures that are captured, because using the money for assets in the US or for dividends/buybacks shall bring about tax liabilities.