Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Baruch Lev on Intangibles in Harvard BR

In an interesting HBR article (June 2004), Lev concludes that both investors and managers are underestimating the value of R&D and other intangibles investments.
As a result, managers shift resources from R towards I and corporations, being undervalued, face higher cost of capital then necessary.

Five reasons are given for the undervaluation of intangibles:
1. the information about the investment in intangibles and about their returns is hard to get at (requires better valuation methods)
2. providing this information is not (yet) obliged by GAAP and other accounting systems (requires change by accounting bodies),
3. intangibles viewed as assets rather then as costs (requires a change of mindset),
4. disclosing of intangibles value may be used by competitors (find the optimal amount and timing to disclose information to prevent loosing competitive edge)
5. possible litigation exposure (in case of missed future forecasted value)

I wonder if these 5 reasons cover all factors involved in this undervaluation?