The explanatory value of intrinsic equity valuation models for share price variations: A survey of recent approaches

Ronald Nhleko, Daniel P Schutte


Over the past six decades, a considerable amount of research has been conducted to better understand the explanatory ability of intrinsic equity valuation models to account for variations in equity share prices or returns, in which the accounting-based Ohlson residual income valuation framework has been the primary focus. Meanwhile, several variants of this model have emerged, the foremost of which typically comprises the decomposition of the Ohlson residual income variable into substitute accounting earnings variables, such as the traditional bottom-line earnings variable or, more recently, alternative earnings performance measures, of which earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) is a particular case in point. However, there appears to be a lack of consensus about the variables of interest and the most appropriate model to define the predicted interconnections between accounting values and share prices or share price returns. In light of this lack of accord, the aim of this study was to examine the recent literature with regard to the approaches and evidence pertaining to the Ohlson model and the recent variants thereof that are based either on traditional or alternative earnings performance measures, with a view to answering the following research questions: 1. Which econometric model results in the best explanation of the association between accounting information and share prices? 2. Consequently, which variable, when combined with equity book values, seems to provide the most persuasive evidence of association with equity share prices: EBITDA, earnings or residual income? To answer these questions, a systematic literature review was conducted. The criteria were that the studies had to have at least two explanatory variables of interest in accounting for share price variations or returns, with one of them being equity book values and the other being any earnings performance measure, such as residual income, earnings, EBITDA, or combinations involving transformations of these. The review entailed a critical evaluation of the methodologies, model specification and model output against the reported findings, inferences and conclusions. The results revealed that the original Ohlson (1995) model, the Collins et al. (1997) and the recent EBITDA variations yielded equally valid demonstrations of the association of accounting information with share price variations. Consequently, depending on the choice of model, all three variables, EBITDA, earnings and residual income, appear to possess an equal amount of explanatory power to account for variations in equity share prices. The study’s major contribution is to clarify the explanatory power of Ohlson-based models and the specification of variables, as well as methodological and analysis issues that could inform future research in the field.

Keywords: EBITDA; equity valuation; Ohlson (1995) residual income valuation framework; value relevance; alternative performance measures; fundamental valuation; intrinsic equity valuation.

JEL classification codes: M41; G10, G12; G14; G11; G32

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Issues In Social and Environmental Accounting (ISEA) - ISSN: 1978-0591