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20 March 2020 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 76, Issue 2

The Big Market Delusion: Valuation and Investment Implications

  1. Bradford Cornell
  2. Aswath Damodaran

Big markets draw in entrepreneurs and VCs, overconfident that they can conquer these markets, which leads to a collective overpricing and an inevitable correction. We look at examples (e-commerce, online advertising, and cannabis) and implications.

In entrepreneurs’ minds, big markets offer the promise of easily scalable revenues that, coupled with profitability, can translate into large profits. This article examines how the “big market promise” affects business formation and financing, with a focus on the role of overconfidence on the part of both entrepreneurs and their financiers (venture capitalists and public equity) in creating a collective overpricing of companies in alleged big markets—and an inevitable correction. Three case studies illustrate this thesis—one in which the process has fully played out (1990s dot-com retail), one in which it has been unfolding for a while (online advertising), and one in which it is just beginning (the cannabis market). We suggest several lessons for investors, regulators, and businesses based on these case studies.
Read the Complete Article in Financial Analysts Journal Financial Analysts Journal CFA Institute Member Content

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