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Choosing the Most Effective Valuation Method by Sector

In the ever-evolving landscape of finance and investment, determining the true value of a company or asset is a pivotal task. Investors, analysts, and financial professionals alike are continually seeking the most accurate and effective methods for valuing entities across various sectors. The choice of valuation method can significantly impact investment decisions, financial strategies, and the overall success of an investment portfolio.

This article delves into the intricate world of valuation, exploring the diverse sectors that make up the global economy and the unique challenges they pose. Whether you're evaluating a technology startup, a mature manufacturing company, a real estate investment, or any other asset, selecting the appropriate valuation method is a critical step towards informed decision-making.

We'll delve into the nuances of each method, discuss their advantages and limitations, and provide valuable insights to help you make informed choices in your quest for sound investment strategies. So, let's begin the exploration of "Choosing the Most Effective Valuation Method by Sector."


  1. Cement & Steel: - These sectors involve substantial capital investments, and the cost of establishing a facility serves as a significant barrier to entry. Therefore, the replacement cost approach is employed to assess the worth of companies in these industries. This approach can be applied to evaluate both individual assets and the entire business. In this context, businesses are appraised based on the expenses required to construct a new facility from scratch, which is then compared to the current per-tonne expenditure. Notably, many acquisitions in the cement and steel sectors occur when stocks are priced at a very reasonable replacement value. Examples of such transactions include Bhushan Steel and Binani Cement, which were predominantly based on the replacement cost approach. The replacement cost signifies the expense of substituting an existing asset with a similar one at the prevailing market rate.
  2. Pharmaceuticals and FMCG: - These sectors exhibit a relatively stable and non-cyclical character, making the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method an effective valuation tool. DCF is particularly well-suited for situations where cash flow predictability is high. This method involves the calculation of cash flows, which are derived from the Cash Flow Statement's operational cash, adjusted for average capital expenditure. Projections are typically made for a five-year period, and at the end of this period, the business's terminal value is determined. Subsequently, these terminal values and cash flows are discounted to their present values using the weighted average cost of capital (WACC).
  3. Software and Insurance: - Leveraging market comparables, such as the P/E ratio, prove highly valuable in sectors such as software and insurance. This metric serves as a supplementary tool because forecasting cash flows can be quite intricate in exceptionally dynamic settings. As a result, comparable P/E ratios are commonly reviewed among industry peers in India, Asia, and on a global scale. This practice provides a rapid and effective means of assessing whether a stock is trading at an appealing P/E ratio or not.
  4. Banks & NBFCs: - The Price-to-Book Value (P/BV) ratio is particularly popular within the banking and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) sector. The book value serves as an indicator of a bank's lending book's net worth, while the P/BV ratio typically reflects the value perceived by shareholders. For instance, as of December 22, 2022, banks like Axis Bank (P/BV of 2.39) and IndusInd Bank (P/BV of 2.12) command a premium P/BV valuation. In contrast, HDFC Bank (P/BV of 3.61), Kotak Bank (P/BV of 3.76), and ICICI Bank (P/BV of 4.01) exhibit lower P/BV ratios, primarily due to concerns about asset quality. Consequently, the stock of these banks is valued at a discount relative to their equity value due to their higher P/BV ratios.
  5. E-commerce players, telecom players and retailers: - In situations where companies carry substantial debt in their early years and require an extended period to recover their expenses, the EV/EBITDA ratio emerges as a more suitable valuation metric. EV, which stands for Enterprise Value, signifies the total market worth of both equity and debt minus the available cash on the company's balance sheets. Meanwhile, EBITDA, short for Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation, and Amortization, serves as a benchmark for industry averages and signifies the company's acquisition value. This metric holds particular relevance in industries currently experiencing significant consolidation efforts.
  6. Technology: - Technology companies feature intricate business models characterized by dispersed and unpredictable revenue streams. Moreover, the persistent spectre of protectionism makes it challenging to generate a dependable long-term forecast. Consequently, opting for comparable analysis is a more prudent choice within this sector than relying on Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) valuation methods.
  7. Diversified business group or Holding companies Structures: - Companies such as Reliance Industries operate in diverse sectors encompassing Oil and gas, Refining, Oil Marketing, Retailing, Petrochemicals, and Telecom. Valuing these conglomerates involves assessing each business segment as an independent entity and then aggregating their values, often incorporating a premium to account for synergies. Likewise, when dealing with holding company structures like HDFC or SBI, their portfolios encompass banking, home finance, life insurance, general insurance, financial services, asset management, and more. In such cases, the Sum of Total Parts (SOTP) approach is employed for valuation.
  8. Healthcare Sector: - Similar to the telecom sector, these industries can also be systematically dissected into a logical progression of financial figures, leading to a dependable medium to long-term forecast. Therefore, employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method is a sensible decision. However, in bearish market conditions, asset-based valuation approaches should be applied to ascertain worst-case scenario valuations.
  9. Infrastructure / Power / Oil & Gas: - The Core Sector comprises Infrastructure, Power, and Oil & Gas. These sectors are predominantly influenced by government policies and funding, with comprehensive information readily accessible. Their distinct drivers and abundant data availability make them ideal candidates for Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) analysis, with asset valuation serving as supplementary support.


Some commonly utilized multiples for publicly listed companies include Price/Earnings per share (P/E), Price/Book Value (P/BV), and Price/Sales (P/S). In contrast, for companies not listed on any stock exchange, various other Enterprise Value multiples come into play, including EV/Revenue, EV/EBITDA, and EV/Sales, among others.