Fair Value Vs Fair Market Value: What’s The Difference?

It helps users of financial statements understand the true worth of an entity’s resources, obligations, and investment holdings. For instance, let’s consider a company with an investment portfolio of stocks and bonds. By accounting standards such as the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), the company must report the FV of these financial instruments on its balance sheet. The unit of account defines what is being measured for financial reporting and this is normally determined by the applicable financial reporting standard. Fair value may need to be measured for either a standalone asset (or liability) or a group of assets (or liabilities), i.e. a cash-generating unit. It requires an initial investment of $10,000 and offers a future cash flow of $14,000 in a year.

The standard distinguishes between premiums or discounts that reflect size as a characteristic (especially blockage factor), control premium/discount for minority interest and discount for lack of marketability. The concepts of ‘highest and best use’ and ‘valuation premise’ are only applicable when determining the fair value of non-financial assets e.g. property, plant and equipment. In other words, fair value is a market-based measurement, not an entity-specific measurement. For example, synergies available to a specific buyer are not considered in the valuation of an interest in an unquoted investment. With fair value accounting, it is total asset value that reflects the actual income of a company. It doesn’t rely on a report of profits and losses but instead just looks at actual value.

4 Valuation approaches, techniques, and methods

Often fair value and market value are used interchangeably and understood as the same thing; however, in reality, they are not identical. Designed for freelancers and small business owners, Debitoor invoicing software makes it quick and easy to issue professional invoices and manage your business finances. EBITDA multiples by industry indicate growth, profitability, and stability of profits in various sectors—and are a quick and easy way to estimate value. Cam Merritt is a writer and editor specializing in business, personal finance and home design. He has contributed to USA Today, The Des Moines Register and Better Homes and Gardens”publications. Merritt has a journalism degree from Drake University and is pursuing an MBA from the University of Iowa.

  • However, market value is negotiated between parties without logically determining the asset’s actual value.
  • Moreover, it is not limited to financial instruments but can be applied to other assets and liabilities, such as real estate properties or derivative contracts.
  • Book value looks at a company’s financial statements and values a company as its total assets minus intangible assets and liabilities.

There are a few alternative accounting methods for FV that are used in specific contexts or under certain circumstances. Calculating FV can vary depending on the type of asset or liability being evaluated. It assesses the value of investments, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and private equity holdings. Investors and portfolio managers rely on FV estimates to make informed investment decisions, evaluate investment performance, and allocate capital efficiently. Non-performance risk is the risk that an obligation will not be fulfilled and includes the reporting entity’s own credit risk and other risks such as settlement risk. In practice, navigating the fair value framework may be more straightforward for certain types of assets (e.g. quoted investments) than for others (e.g. intangible assets).

Future Value

Traders speculating on the price of the two financial products may decide to go long or short either of the two if they believe the price will eventually revert to an equilibrium. FV accounting has several benefits that contribute to transparency and better decision-making. To calculate the FV, you would multiply the average P/E ratio by the earnings per share (EPS) of XYZ Company. The specific use of FV may vary depending on the industry, regulatory requirements, and the purpose for which the valuation is being performed.

Industries Where Fair Value is Relevant

When measuring the fair value of interest in private business, control premium/discount for minority interest and discount for lack of marketability can be taken into consideration. To illustrate, let’s say Company A, a construction company, bought a backhoe for its operations at $30,000. Assuming it will last for 10 years, with a depreciation expense of $2,000 for each year, then its carrying value would already be $10,000.

How to Value Shares of a Company

The framework outlines 3 levels of input value, level 1 being the most accurate, and level 3 the least accurate and only to be used if there is no existing market. You should always input level 1 values on your reports, but can input level 2 and 3 values if the others are not available. You notice that a few companies are selling the same machine on their websites.

In this example, the FV of XYZ Company’s stock is determined to be $50 per share, which matches the current market price. Entities may be required to measure assets or liabilities at FV to comply with accounting standards such as International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). This valuation method is essential for valuing derivatives like options, futures contracts, and swaps. Derivatives are typically marked to market at their FV, reflecting changes in market conditions and ensuring accurate reporting of gains or losses. The exit price objective of a fair value measurement applies regardless of the reporting entity’s intent and/or ability to sell the asset (or transfer the liability). Fair value is the exit price in the principal market, or in the absence, the most advantageous market.

It is intended to reduce inconsistencies and increase comparability in fair value measurements used in financial reporting. For example, there may be no specific market for the sale of a CGU or intangible asset. In such cases, management needs to develop a hypothetical market and identify potential market participants. Several factors influence the required rate of return, or hurdle rate, such as the rate of interest you could earn on risk-free government bonds, expected inflation, liquidity, and how risky the investment is. The more favorable these factors are for the investor, the lower the required rate of return; the less favorable they are, the higher the rate of return an investor would require. For our hypothetical example, we are saying that based on our assessment of each of those rate-of-return factors, we would have to think we could earn 8% by investing in the stock or we wouldn’t do it.


GAAP only considers participants in the most advantageous market for reporting purposes, rather than the open, unrestricted market; typically this will result in a higher value. Fair market value is the most widely accepted standard of value; the key word in the phrase is market. FV accounting is relevant in various industries where the valuation of assets, liabilities, or investments is crucial for financial reporting, decision-making, and risk management. Amortized cost accounting is often applied to financial instruments to collect contractual cash flows. It is commonly used for debt instruments, such as bonds or loans, focusing on recognizing the effective interest rate over time. It enhances transparency by accurately reflecting the economic value of assets and liabilities.

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