All that being said, the residual income valuation approach is a viable and increasingly popular method of valuation and can be implemented rather easily by even novice investors. When used alongside the other popular valuation approaches, residual income valuation can give you a clearer estimate of what the true intrinsic value of a firm may be. (Don't be overwhelmed by the many valuation techniques out there - knowing a few characteristics about a company will help you pick the best one. See How To Choose The Best Stock Valuation Method.)
As you may have noticed, the residual income valuation formula is very similar to a multistage dividend discount model, substituting future dividend payments for future residual earnings. Using the same basic principles as a dividend discount model to calculate future residual earnings, we can derive an intrinsic value for a firm's stock. In contrast to the DCF approach which uses the weighted average cost of capital for the discount rate, the appropriate rate for the residual income strategy is the cost of equity. (Learn the strengths and weaknesses of passive and active management when trying to uncover the overall market's worth. Check out Strategies For Determining The Market's True Worth.)
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Here's another example. If a person owns apartments that are rented out at a profit, they earn money each month without working a specific number of hours. If the owner earns $100/month net income from each apartment, the determining factor is how many apartments they own, not how many hours they work. Therefore, they may own 1 apartment and make $100 net income each month, or they could own 500 apartments and make $50,000 ($100 per apartment) each month.
Large corporations often use a higher rate than the risk-free interest rate when calculating the residual value of individual departments or an entire firm. They often called this rate the required rate of return or minimum acceptable rate of return. There are various ways of calculating such a rate, but the main reason it is almost always higher than the rates offered by certificates of deposit is the higher risk involved in a business. After all, investing money in even the safest corporation involves some risk of never again seeing part or all of your money again, whereas a bank deposit is government guaranteed and virtually fail-proof. Therefore, businesses consider themselves to be adding economic value only if they can surpass a higher benchmark than the risk-free interest rate offered by banks.
Managerial accounting defines residual income in a corporate setting as the amount of leftover operating profit after all costs of capital used to generate the revenues have been paid. It is also considered the company's net operating income or the amount of profit that exceed its required rate of return. Residual income is normally used to assess the performance of a capital investment, team, department or business unit.