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Narrative and Numbers: The Value of Stories in Business
     

Narrative and Numbers: The Value of Stories in Business

by Aswath Damodaran
 

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How can a company that has never turned a profit have a multibillion dollar valuation? Why do some start-ups attract large investments while others do not? Aswath Damodaran, finance professor and experienced investor, argues that the power of story drives corporate value, adding substance to numbers and persuading even cautious investors to take risks. In business,

Overview

How can a company that has never turned a profit have a multibillion dollar valuation? Why do some start-ups attract large investments while others do not? Aswath Damodaran, finance professor and experienced investor, argues that the power of story drives corporate value, adding substance to numbers and persuading even cautious investors to take risks. In business, there are the storytellers who spin compelling narratives and the number-crunchers who construct meaningful models and accounts. Both are essential to success, but only by combining the two, Damodaran argues, can a business deliver and sustain value.

Through a range of case studies, Narrative and Numbers describes how storytellers can better incorporate and narrate numbers and how number-crunchers can calculate more imaginative models that withstand scrutiny. Damodaran considers Uber’s debut and how narrative is key to understanding different valuations. He investigates why Twitter and Facebook were valued in the billions of dollars at their public offerings, and why one (Twitter) has stagnated while the other (Facebook) has grown. Damodaran also looks at more established business models such as Apple and Amazon to demonstrate how a company’s history can both enrich and constrain its narrative. And through Vale, a global Brazil-based mining company, he shows the influence of external narrative, and how country, commodity, and currency can shape a company’s story. Narrative and Numbers reveals the benefits, challenges, and pitfalls of weaving narratives around numbers and how one can best test a story’s plausibility.

Editorial Reviews

Stephen Penman
Damodaran, instructor to many on valuation, clearly demonstrates that quantitative valuation formulas are not sufficient: they must be applied with a more qualitative narrative about the business. But qualitative analysis has its dangers, not the least that we insert our own biases into the narrative. Damodaran nicely weaves stories into the more formal quantitative analysis, with check and balances that yield a more confident valuation.

Paul Johnson
Damodaran's success in combining storytelling with traditional financial analysis and valuation is unprecedented. The book has the potential to be a cornerstone of both traditional valuation and business "pitching" as it shows how individuals from each world can benefit from co-opting tools from the other. The author takes us on his personal journey into the realization that numbers need a narrative in order to make them persuasive.

Thomas E. Copeland
Professor Damodaran's point-counterpoint case studies make valuation a good read. Self-critical in his contemporary examples, he wisely cautions the reader that quality valuation requires both the right and the left side of one's brain—the number cruncher and the storyteller.

Michael Mauboussin
No one has contributed more to the craft of valuation than Aswath Damodaran. In Narrative and Numbers, he correctly shows that you can't understand the stock without the story. After Damodaran's eye-opening tour, you will forever appreciate the vital contribution of human nature to number-crunching.

David Foster
Damodaran takes us to the place where Joseph Campbell, Warren Buffett, and the best quantitative analyses of Nassim Taleb intersect, and his journey uncovers new value and risk missed by analysts who bias themselves by relying solely on storytelling or number-crunching. It's a hero's journey best supported by humility—and this first-person account of Aswath's own evolving narratives, analyses, and valuations of Alibaba, Amazon, Uber, Theranos, Ferrari, and more. He may have started as a quant, but Damodaran's now one of the most balanced analysts—and wonderful business and financial storytellers—writing and teaching today.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231542746
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
01/10/2017
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
7 MB

Meet the Author

Aswath Damodaran is the Kerschner Family Chair in Finance Education and professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He is the author of Applied Corporate Finance, Fourth Edition (2014), Investment Valuation: Tools and Techniques for Determining the Value of Any Asset, Third Edition (2012), The Little Book of Valuation: How to Value a Company, Pick and Stock and Profit (2011), and Damodaran on Valuation: Security Analysis for Investment and Corporate Finance, Second Edition (2006).

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