Intangible Assets: A Hidden but Crucial Driver of Company Value
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Intangible Assets Take Center Stage
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In 2018, intangible assets for S&P 500 companies hit a record value of $21 trillion. These assets, which are not physical in nature and include things like intellectual property, have rapidly risen in importance compared to tangible assets like cash.
Today’s infographic from Raconteur highlights the growth of intangible asset valuations, and how senior decision-makers view intangibles when making investment decisions.
Tracking the Growth of Intangibles
Intangibles used to play a much smaller role than they do now, with physical assets comprising the majority of value for most enterprise companies. However, an increasingly competitive and digital economy has placed the focus on things like intellectual property, as companies race to out-innovate one another.
To measure this historical shift, Aon and the Ponemon Institute analyzed the value of intangible and tangible assets over nearly four and a half decades on the S&P 500. Here’s how they stack up:
In just 43 years, intangibles have evolved from a supporting asset into a major consideration for investors – today, they make up 84% of all enterprise value on the S&P 500, a massive increase from just 17% in 1975.
The Largest Companies by Intangible Value
Digital-centric sectors, such as internet & software and technology & IT, are heavily reliant on intangible assets.
Brand Finance, which produces an annual ranking of companies based on intangible value, has companies in these sectors taking the top five spots on the 2019 edition of their report.
|Rank||Company||Sector||Total Intangible Value||Share of Enterprise Value|
|1||Microsoft||Internet & Software||$904B||90%|
|2||Amazon||Internet & Software||$839B||93%|
|3||Apple||Technology & IT||$675B||77%|
|4||Alphabet||Internet & Software||$521B||65%|
|5||Internet & Software||$409B||79%|
|7||Tencent||Internet & Software||$365B||88%|
|8||Johnson & Johnson||Pharma||$361B||101%|
|10||Alibaba||Internet & Software||$344B||86%|
|12||Procter & Gamble||Cosmetics & Personal Care||$305B||101%|
Note: Percentages may exceed 100% due to rounding.
Microsoft overtook Amazon for the top spot in the ranking for 2019, with $904B in intangible assets. The company has the largest commercial cloud business in the world.
Pharma and healthcare companies are also prominent on the list, comprising four of the top 20. Their intangible value is largely driven by patents, as well as mergers and acquisitions. Johnson & Johnson, for example, reported $32B in patents and trademarks in their latest annual report.
A Lack of Disclosure
It’s important to note that Brand Finance’s ranking is based on both disclosed intangibles—those that are reported on a company’s balance sheet—and undisclosed intangibles. In the ranking, undisclosed intangibles were calculated as the difference between a company’s market value and book value.
The majority of intangibles are not reported on balance sheets because accounting standards do not recognize them until a transaction has occurred to support their value. While many accounting managers see this as a prudent measure to stop unsubstantiated asset values, it means that many highly valuable intangibles never appear in financial reporting. In fact, 34% of the total worth of the world’s publicly traded companies is made up of undisclosed value.
“It is time for CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs to start a long overdue reporting revolution.”
—David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance
Brand Finance believes that companies should regularly value each intangible asset, including the key assumptions management made when deriving their value. This information would be extremely useful for managers, investors, and other stakeholders.
A Key Consideration
Investment professionals certainly agree on the importance of intangibles. In a survey of institutional investors by Columbia Threadneedle, it was found that 95% agreed that intangible assets contain crucial information about the future strength of a company’s business model.
Moreover, 98% agree that more transparency would be beneficial to their assessment of intangible assets. In the absence of robust reporting, Columbia Threadneedle believes active managers are well equipped to understand intangible asset values due to their access to management, relationships with key opinion leaders, and deep industry expertise.
By undertaking rigorous analysis, managers may uncover hidden competitive advantages—and generate higher potential returns in the process.
Graphene: An Investor’s Guide to the Emerging Market
The market value of graphene could reach $3.75 billion by 2030. As the emerging industry shows fast growth, it also faces obstacles.
Graphene: An Investor’s Guide to the Emerging Market
Graphene is an atomic-scale “honeycomb” that is revolutionizing the world of materials and capturing investor attention.
Experts predict that its market value could reach the billion-dollar threshold by 2027 and soar to a staggering $3.75 billion by 2030.
In this infographic sponsored by HydroGraph, we dive into everything investors need to know about this exciting industry and where it’s headed.
Graphene possesses several unique physical properties which contribute to its wide range of potential applications.
- 200 times stronger than steel
- Harder than diamonds
- 1,000 times lighter than paper
- 98% transparent
- Higher electrical conductivity than copper
- Heat conductivity: 5 times that of copper
- 2,630 m² of surface area per gram
Since its first successful isolation in 2004, graphene’s properties have opened the doors to a multitude of commercial applications and products.
Applications of Graphene
Graphene has permeated numerous sectors like electronics, energy, and healthcare because of its impressive array of end uses.
|Industry||Revenue CAGR of Graphene Across Industries, 2022-2027|
|Biomedical and Healthcare||52%|
|Electronics and Telecommunications||34%|
|Aerospace and Defense||16%|
|Other End-User Industries||17%|
Graphene’s antibacterial properties make it highly suitable for medical instruments and implants. Furthermore, it has shown remarkable potential in helping treat diseases such as cancer.
Another one of the material’s applications is its ability to emit high-speed light pulses, or to combine graphene’s thinness and high-conductivity to create the tiniest possible light sources.
All in all, it’s difficult to sum up graphene’s properties and potential applications in one place. The supermaterial has been covered and cited in thousands of academic journals, and comes up with over 2 million search results on Google Scholar.
Graphene has evolved from a scientific breakthrough to a commercial reality in less than two decades, putting it firmly on the radar of many future-focused investors.
But despite the strides the industry is making, it is still in its infancy, and therefore challenges exist on the path to widespread adoption. Here are the top five commercialization obstacles perceived by industry players.
|Obstacle||% of survey respondents|
|Production Methods, Scaling, and Distribution||21%|
|Lack of Knowledge/Awareness||15%|
When transitioning cutting-edge materials from the laboratory to consumer products, challenges like these can be expected. But one company is tackling them head-on.
By producing 99.8% pure graphene, and ensuring batch-to-batch consistency, HydroGraph is helping meet the growing demand for graphene products across industries while addressing challenges like cost, scale, and quality.
Interested in learning more? Explore investment opportunities with HydroGraph now.
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