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The Significance And Value Of A Brand

Branding: Brand name of a product has specific value to a company. How do we value a brand and how does it affect the fair value of a common stock?  There is no definite way of doing it since a brand is worth more to some than to others. Brand is valued in the balance sheet under 'Intangible Assets' or 'Goodwill'.. Each company values their brand differently but they all agree that brand name has certain value.

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What is the best way to value a brand? Nobody knows for sure.  One can only give his reasoning and then value the brand accordingly. Here, I will explore the possibility of valuing a brand based on asset value and based on the value of the common stock.

Let's use a familiar brand name. Coca Cola Company (KO) has one of the most valuable brand in the world under the Coke brand name. How much is it worth? We can go to any grocery stores to verify. Grab a bottle of Coke and a bottle of generic cola.  What is the price difference?  We can argue that the price difference is due to the Coke brand name. Let's assume a price difference of 10 cents. Let's assume that Coke sold 1 Billion bottles of Cokes each year. This implies an additional $ 100 Million due to value of Coke brand. What is the fair value of a brand? 

Assuming a 7.5% yield (P/E of 13.4), the value of Coke brand is $ 1.34 Billion. Please note that this is a very rough estimation of brand value .We just assume the same 10 cents product differential everywhere. Coke sells to almost every corner of the world and the price differential is not always 10 cents every time. Furthermore, as you may know, if Coca Cola is not selling that much Coke this year, the value of the brand will drop and vice versa. 

Therefore, the value of the Coke brand will fluctuate depending on the sales of the product. Supply disruption will result in lower sales. If there is a disruption in supply, which has nothing to do with brand value, the value of the brand will decrease as well. Should we care about the value of a brand when investing in the stock?

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Yes and No. Yes, if you are valuing the company on the basis of asset value. If the value of the brand is a significant part of the balance sheet, then you should include it to value the overall net asset of the company. If a stock is traded at $ 10 per share while the net book value with the brand value included is $ 15 per share, then investors might profit by buying the stock at $ 10 per share. For our version of fair value, valuing a brand name is not necessary. This is because the fair value of a common stock is correlated with the profits generated by the company. 

What is the brand name of Enron when it cannot produce a profit under this scenario? Zero. In general, we should not care much about the value of a specific brand. All we are trying to do as investors is to buy undervalued investments. We should compare the profit generated by the company with the price of the common stock, not with the value of the brand.

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