Book Value – Meaning Formula & Calculation

Metrics related to the financial performance of a company are essential for investors. Besides the company’s managers and directors, financial metrics are used for research purposes by investors. For instance, you might check a company’s profitability before purchasing its stocks. This is one such metric used by investors and the company’s management. Let us delve deeper and understand the logic behind the calculation of the book value.

What is Book Value?

Book value is a financial metric representing a company’s net worth. It is calculated by taking the total assets of the company and subtracting its total liabilities. In essence, it provides a snapshot of what would be left for the company’s shareholders if all its assets were sold and all its debts were paid off. 

This value is crucial for investors and analysts as it can offer insights into a company’s financial health and the relative worth of its shares. Investors often use it to assess whether a stock is undervalued or overvalued. If the share is higher than its current market price, it may indicate that the stock is undervalued and potentially a good investment opportunity. Conversely, if the value is lower than the market price, it could suggest the stock is overvalued.

However, it’s important to note that this value has limitations. It does not reflect the market’s perception of a company’s value, which can be influenced by various factors. Intangible assets like intellectual property and brand recognition are often not fully accounted for, so they may not provide a complete picture of a company’s true worth. Nevertheless, this metric remains a fundamental measure for assessing a company’s financial position and its shares’ potential value in the market.

What Does Book Value Indicate?

Book value represents the actual worth of a public company. It represents the intrinsic value of the company, which the shareholders will receive in case of liquidation. However, liquidation of companies is not possible unless the company experiences a significant downfall. 

A high value represents the strong foundation of a public entity. A company’s book value will be high when its assets exceed its liabilities. A company with fewer liabilities has good financial health.

Importance of Book Value

Asset Valuation

This metric denotes a company’s assets, clearly understanding its financial position. It aids in determining the company’s intrinsic value or net worth.

Risk Assessment

Investors often utilise this metric to assess the level of risk associated with a company. When a company’s liabilities outweigh its assets, it is considered a riskier investment option.

Financial Stability Analysis

It reflects a company’s financial stability. Companies with more liabilities than assets may have a lower metric, indicating financial instability and potentially making it less appealing to equity investors.

Informed Decision Making:

This metric offers insights into a company’s profitability, aiding investors in making well-informed decisions.

Recommended Read : What is Stock Market

Comparison Tool

It enables the comparison of the profitability and net worth of two companies based on their respective metrics, thus facilitating a better understanding of stock potential.

Why is Book Value Useful for Valuation?

Before you understand how to calculate book value, it is essential to understand its use for valuation. Investors often indulge in valuation before investing in a company. They follow several techniques for evaluating the total worth of a company. It is a simple metric that denotes the intrinsic value of a company. Since public companies disclose their assets and liabilities to investors, it is easy to calculate their net worth. A company’s book value is a conservative estimate of the total net worth.

Before investors indulge in complex valuation techniques, they can get an estimate of the company’s total net worth via its book value. Investors can also compare the net worth of two companies based on this value. Investors interested in valuation or value investing also use the value as a margin of safety. They calculate the value per share to understand the margin of safety. Many investors track the changes in a company’s value over time. They can understand the company’s historical financial performance and growth pattern by tracking the book value.

How to Calculate Book Value?

You can calculate a company’s book value by knowing its liabilities and the value of intangible assets. You must also know the value of the total assets of the company. Here is the formula to calculate the book value of a company:   

Book Value = Total Assets – Total Liabilities

It is crucial to note that the total assets of a company will not include the intangible assets. iIt can also be calculated in terms of a share. It allows investors to understand the worth of a single share before investing in a company. Here’s how to calculate book value per share:

Book Value Per Share = Book Value of the Company / Number of Outstanding Shares

In the above formula, common outstanding shares are considered. There are shares issued by the company and currently held by investors. These shares represent ownership stakes in the company and might come with voting rights or dividends.

Differences Between Book Value and Market Value

Investors might confuse book value with the market value of a company. Even though both metrics sound similar, there are a few differences. Here are the dissimilarities between the book value and market value of a company:

Book Value  Market Value 

It is a company’s net worth, representing net assets minus liabilities. 

It is the perceived value of the company in the stock market. Market value is defined as the total market value (current price) of a company’s outstanding shares.

It is based on the company’s financial records and statements like the balance sheet. 

Market value is based on a company’s shares’ supply and demand dynamics. 

A company’s book value can be calculated by subtracting the liabilities from the total assets. 

You will multiply the number of outstanding shares of a company by the current share price to evaluate market value. 

It is used to assess the financial health and stability of the company. Many investors prefer investing in companies with strong foundations. 

It is the perceived market value of the company in the stock market. Investor decisions can be influenced by the market value of a company. 

A decline in the book value will have an indirect effect on investors. Investors might be hesitant to invest after valuation. 

A decline in the market value affects the stock prices in real-time. The buying and selling decisions of investors are influenced. 

Limitations of Book Value

Now that you understand what book value is, here are its limitations:

Non-Inclusion of Intangible Assets

Book value calculation does not involve intangible assets. Patents, brand recognition, copyrights, and other intangible assets are not included, which can be of significant value.

Historical Data

The historical price data of assets is used for calculating book value. The value of assets might change with time, which is unaccounted for in book value. For instance, the value of real estate assets might rise or depreciate with time.

Non-Inclusion of Off-Balance Liabilities

Not all liabilities are listed in a company’s balance sheet. Some off-balance sheet items, like lease commitments, environmental liabilities, service agreements, and contingent liabilities, are not considered in book value.

Recommended Read: Valuation of Shares

Sector-Specific Issues

Book value might not be the right metric for investors in some sectors, like pharmaceuticals, tourism, biotechnology, entertainment, and IT. The worth of intangible assets, R&D activities, or intellectual property is high in these sectors.


Book value is a useful financial metric representing a company’s intrinsic net worth. Even though it does not count intangible assets, it is a powerful metric that can be used for investment research. You can use book and market value together to make informed investment decisions. While the book value represents the total assets of a company minus liabilities, market value is the entity’s worth in the market. Beginners in the stock market must first understand how to calculate book value and market cap before making investment decisions. Learn more about financial metrics for investment research now!


Open a Demat & Trading Account

Know More about Share Market