Companies like Coca-Cola are relatively easy to value. As we all know Coca-Cola sells various drinks. You can judge the market size, the growth, and their margins. In short, you can get a pretty good handle on its estimated valuation.
Companies that are not as easy to value are commonly referred to as hidden asset value companies. They tend to be a bit more complicated to value because of their different initiatives, financial characteristics, when their net operating losses expire, or what happens when there is a takeover. Basically, you’d have to do a lot of custom detailed research and it takes a long time to work through. You have to untangle the story.
One way of doing this custom research is to: 1) Define the company’s different lines of businesses. 2) Separate the components and identify the business drivers of each. 3) Value each of the components.
When you do this there will be a bunch of offsets like pension liability, debt, and other hidden liabilities. Ultimately, you get to a net asset value of the company.
While it is not necessary to value all companies this way, this is one way to value a complex business.