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Vital Concepts: Value vs. Price

Vital Concepts: Value vs. Price

July 17, 2023

When it comes to investing in the stock market, understanding value vs. price is crucial. These two terms represent different perspectives on a stock's worth and can significantly influence investment decisions. In this blog post, we will delve into the difference between a stock's intrinsic value and its current price, highlighting their significance and how investors can benefit from this knowledge.

Defining Intrinsic Value: Intrinsic value is a fundamental concept in investing that represents the true worth of a stock based on its underlying fundamentals. It is an estimate of what a stock should be worth, independent of market fluctuations or investor sentiment. The intrinsic value of a stock is derived from analyzing factors such as the company's financial health, earnings potential, growth prospects, competitive advantage, and industry trends. In short - intrinsic value is basically the current and potential profitability of a company.  It is an attempt to determine the stock's "true value" in relation to its fundamentals.

Understanding Current Price: On the other hand, the current price of a stock is the market-determined value at which the stock is being traded. It is the result of the constant interplay between supply and demand in the stock market. Numerous factors, including market sentiment, investor behavior, economic conditions, and news events, can influence a stock's current price. Unlike intrinsic value, the current price is subject to frequent changes and often deviates from a stock's underlying worth.

The Key Differences:

  1. Timeframe: Intrinsic value focuses on the long-term prospects of a stock, considering factors that might affect its value over an extended period. Conversely, the current price reflects short-term market dynamics and can fluctuate rapidly.

  2. Evaluation Method: Intrinsic value is typically determined through fundamental analysis, involving a comprehensive assessment of a company's financial statements, management quality, competitive position, and industry conditions. In contrast, the current price is determined by the forces of supply and demand and often influenced by technical analysis and market sentiment.

  3. Investment Perspective: Investors who focus on intrinsic value seek to identify stocks that are undervalued relative to their intrinsic worth, indicating potential buying opportunities. Conversely, investors who follow the current price tend to look for trends and patterns that suggest favorable buying or selling moments based on short-term market dynamics.

  4. Risk and Volatility: Intrinsic value provides a reference point for long-term investors and can help mitigate risk by identifying stocks with a margin of safety. Current price, however, exposes investors to short-term market volatility and may be influenced by factors that are unrelated to a company's fundamental performance.

Utilizing the Knowledge: Understanding the distinction between a stock's intrinsic value and its current price empowers investors to make rational decisions. Investors who focus on intrinsic value can seek out stocks that are trading below their true worth, presenting opportunities for potential long-term gains. By conducting thorough fundamental analysis, investors can identify quality companies with strong growth prospects that may be undervalued by the market.

Another term for prioritizing intrinsic value over price is called "Value Investing".  This is a tried and true, slow and steady strategy that has been employed by some of the most successful investors you've ever heard of - including a Nebraskan named Warren Buffet.  At Bob Bennie Wealth Management, we also believe that focusing on intrinsic value is a major cornerstone of long-term success and apply it to the way we manage investment accounts.  While it isn't flashy, the strategy actually takes a lot of pressure off of attempting to time an unpredictable market based on short-term price movements or news stories (which studies have shown to be an impossible feat). 

The Bottom Line: Understanding the difference between value and price can help you keep your peace of mind as an investor when others are worried about the flavor of the week news story or market movement.  A portfolio made up of assets with true underlying value will be able to weather the waves of volatile news cycles and markets and achieve long-term growth over time.