Valuation is neither art nor science, Damodaran tells new class

BVWireIssue #156-1
September 2, 2015

The first thing Professor Aswath Damodaran (New York University Stern School of Business) does when school is back in session is give his big-picture view of valuation. Many valuation professionals say that valuation is both an art and a science. But, in Damodaran’s mind, valuation is neither.

Valuation is a craft: “Unlike physics and mathematics, indisputably sciences with immutable laws, valuation has principles but none that meet the precision threshold of a science,” he writes in his blog. “At the other extreme, valuation is not an art, where your creative instincts can guide you to wherever you want to go and geniuses can make up their own rules. I believe that valuation is a craft, akin to cooking and carpentry.” Damodaran contends that you learn what works in valuation—and what does not work—by doing it.

Each week in his class, he posts his valuation of a company along with a Google shared spreadsheet. Everybody does their valuation of the same company and compares their valuation to his. The experience of actually doing valuations is a big part of his class.

Want to attend? You don’t have to be a registered student to attend Damodaran’s valuation class—he makes all class sessions available via his website, iTunes U, or YouTube.

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