Thursday, June 10, 2004

Intangible Assets

Synergy Fest raises some good questions about intangible assets, including how to define them and, if you can't define them, how can you hope to value them? This is an important subject since intangiable assets (brand equity, patents, intellectual capital) are often the most valuable assets of the firm.

One tough problem is the lack of market prices for many intangibles. Weyerhauser can value their tracts of timberland because similar tracts change hands regularly. Brands are a completely different story. What can Coke look to as a market reference point? Ditto many forms of intellectual capital. Mickey Mouse is especially valuable because he is a unique icon but his very uniqueness means that there are few market transactions to use as a reference point in valuation.

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