In this paper, some factors are examined which are associated with equity value in an immature and emerging market, China. In the developed countries, research has indicated that both earnings and book value are playing an important role in forecasting equity value. While in China, earnings seems to have information content but earnings, by itself, seems to be weakening in importance over time.
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Book value has a more significant association with equity values. In the risky and unstable environment of China, where future expected earnings is quite uncertain, investors may not be pay much attention to earnings, but be more concerned for the book value. Regarding the role of book value, there are competing explanations.
While some researchers conclude that book value was only important because of its contribution as a control for scale differences (Barth and Kallapur, 1996), others conclude that the important role book value played because it was a useful proxy for expected future normal earnings (Ohlson, 1995). Still others conclude that it is only relevant in the valuation of loss making and unsuccessful companies generally (Berger, Ofek and Swary 1996; Burgstahler and Dichev, 1997). The result of this paper indicates that, overall, earnings and book values are two important determents for pricing stock in China. Furthermore, this study indicates that book value is also important in an unstable economic environment and immature stock market, like China, which is still in early stage of capital market.
In the mature market, empirical research finds that earnings and book value can be used to predict firm value. In particular, researchers have examined the association between earnings, book value, and a combination of both with stock prices and have found it to be significant (Ball and Brown 1968; Ball 1972; Kaplan and Roll, 1972; Collins and Kothari 1989; Burgstahler and Dichev, 1997).
In an important paper referred as a landmark work, Ohlson (1995), in a famous paper, modeled this association and provided a widely used framework for empirical exploration. Burgstahler and Dichev (1997), a significant study in this area, indicated that equity value is an option style combination of recursion value and adaptation value. Recursion value (see Burgstahler and Dichev, 1997) is capitalized expected earnings when the firm recursively applies its current business technology to its resources. Adaptation value means the value of the firm’s resources adapted to alternative use. Current earnings are used as a proxy for recursion value and book value of equity is used as a proxy for adaptation value.
While earnings provide a measure of how the firm’s resources are used currently, book value provides a measure of the value of the firm’s resources independent of how the resources are used currently.
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