Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How much is growth worth?

In my last post, I looked at the price being paid for growth by valuing the assets in place in a business. To make this judgment, I assumed that the business would pay its entire operating income to claim holders (as dividends to stockholders and interest expenses to lenders). The value of assets in place then becomes the value of the earnings in perpetuity, discounted back at the cost of capital.

So, what is the effect of growth on value? To grow in the long term, you have to reinvest some or a big portion of your earnings back into the business, and the amount you have to reinvest will depend upon the return on capital you earn on your new investments:
Reinvestment Rate = Expected Growth rate/ Return on Capital
Thus, a firm with a return on capital of 15% that wants to grow 3% a year will have to reinvest 20% (= 3%/15%) of its operating income back each year. Investors will thus get less in cash flows up front but have higher cash flows in future years.

Consider an example. A firm that generates $ 10 million in after-tax operating income, and has a cost of capital of 10%, will have a value of assets in place of $100 million, if it pursues a "no growth" policy:
Value of assets in place = $10 million/ .10 = $100 million
If it decides to pursue a 3% growth rate and invest 20% of its after-tax income (based upon the return on capital of 15%), its value can be computed as follows:
Value of firm = 10 million (1-.20) / (.10-.03) = $114.28 million
The difference between the two values then becomes the value added by growth:
Value of growth = Value of firm – Value of assets in place = $114.28 - $100 = $14.28 million

Determinants of the value of growth
            If you accept the proposition that growth creates a trade off of lower cash flows today for higher ones in the future, you have the three ingredients that determine the value of growth. The first is the level of growth, with higher growth rates in the future generating higher earnings over time. The second is how long these high growth rates can be sustained before the company becomes too big to keep growing (at least at rates higher than that of the economy). The third and most critical is the return on capital you generate on new investments.

To see why the last ingredient is so critical, revisit the last example and make the return on capital = cost of capital. If you do so, the reinvestment rate has to be 30% to sustain the expected growth rate of 3%. The value of growth then becomes zero:
Value of firm = 10 million (1-.30) / (.10-.03) = $100 million
Value of growth = Value of firm – Value of assets in place = $100 - $100 = $ 0
In fact, if the return on capital generated on new investments is less than the cost of capital, growth can destroy value.

The process of valuing growth does get a little more complicated when you set higher growth rates, but the logic and conclusions do not change. If the return on capital > cost of capital, the value of growth will increase as the growth rate increases and the length of the growth period expands. If the return on capital = cost of capital, neither the growth rate nor the length of the growth period affect value and if the return on capital < cost of capital, the value will move inversely with the growth rate and the length of the growth period. If you want to take this concept out for a trial run, this spreadsheet can help you. 

Comparing the value of growth to the price paid for growth
If you are paying a price for growth, it is always useful to know the value of this growth. If you accept the reasoning in the last section, it follows that it is not growth that you should be paying a premium for but “quality growth”, with quality defined as the excess return you generate over and above the cost of capital. To illustrate this concept, we compute “intrinsic” PE ratios at varying growth rates for three firms, all of which share a cost of capital of 10% but vary in the returns on capital that they earn on new investments (one has a return on capital of 8%, the second has a return on capital of 10% and the third has a return on capital of 12%).
The PE ratio for just the assets in place is 11.63 and remains unchanged, even if you introduce growth, for a firm that earns its cost of capital. For the firm that generates a return on capital < cost of capital, the PE ratio decreases as growth increases, reflecting value destruction in action. For a firm that generates a return on capital > cost of capital, the PE ratio does increase (the growth premium) as growth increases. It is this premium that you would compare to what you actually pay to make a judgment on whether the added PE you are paying for growth is justified.

Price of Growth versus Value of Growth
Using the spreadsheet on growth as a device for deconstructing growth (and its value), I looked at Microsoft, Kraft, Google and Linkedin. In the table below, I have listed my base assumptions for each company and the value of assets in place and expected growth in each one:

This table can be used to address several issues relating to growth:
a. Price of growth versus value of growth: You can compare the price you are paying for growth with the value of growth, and you come to different conclusions. For Microsoft, where the value of assets in place covers the market price you are paying, the value of growth is a pure bonus. For Kraft, the value of growth is negative, since the firm earns less than its cost of capital, and the price you are paying for growth is therefore too high. For Google, the price of growth is almost exactly equal to the value of growth, making it the only fair priced stock in this grouping. Finally, for Linkedin, the price paid for growth is more than twice the value of that growth, making the stock over valued. For investors who believe in growth at a reasonable price (GARP), this is the statistic worth watching.
b. Implied growth rates: An alternative approach is to solve for that growth rate (Look at the spreadsheet and follow the instructions), holding the return on capital and length of growth period fixed, that would yield the price you paid for that growth. Linkedin, for instance, would have to maintain a compounded growth rate of 73% a year (instead of the estimated growth rate of 60% a year) for the next ten years to justify the price you are paying for the growth. (The spreadsheet provides instructions on how to back out the implied growth rate using the Goal seek function in Excel.)

Growth, in summary, does not yield itself easily to rules of thumb or broad generalizations. In some firms, it can be worth nothing, as is argued by strict value investors, whereas in others, it can be worth a great deal, lending credence to the arguments of growth investors. 

How much are you paying for growth?

The debate about Facebook’s valuation is interesting on many dimensions, but one that is worth focusing on is how much growth is worth, and what you are paying for it. At one extreme are some value investors who argue that growth is “speculative” and that it is  worth very little or nothing. At the other are those who argue that growth is priceless and that you should therefore be willing to pay a “fortune” for it. Both groups seem to be in agreement that valuing growth is pointless, because it requires estimates that will be wrong in hindsight.  I had a series of posts on growth a few months ago looking at the limits of growth, the scaling up of growth, the value of growth and how management credibility affects that value. In this post, I offer a simple technique for assessing how much you are paying for growth in a company. In the next one, I address how to value that growth.

Growth Assets and Assets in Place
To provide a perspective on how growth and value interact, it is best to start with what I would call a financial balance sheet.

While it is structured like an accounting balance sheet, it is different on two counts. First, rather than break assets down into fixed, current and financial assets, as accounting balance sheets do, assets are broken down into two categories: “assets in place”, representing the value of investments already made and “growth assets”, measuring the value added by expected future growth. Second, accounting balance sheets are rooted in the past, with numbers representing capital originally invested in assets, whereas financial balance sheets are forward looking, with the values of these assets being based on their capacity to generate cash flows or on market values.

The value of assets in place
To understand the price you are paying for growth, consider a simple experiment. A business that has existing assets that are generating earnings has two choices. It can pay the entire income out to claimholders (as dividends to stockholders and interest to lenders ) and forsake future growth. Alternatively, it can reinvest some (or all) of its earnings back into new investments and generate growth for the future. If you adopt the no growth alternative, your earnings from the most recent period will be your cash flow each year in perpetuity.  The value of these cash flows can be computed by discounting back at a cost of capital to yield a value for assets in place:
Value of assets in place = After-tax Operating Income from most recent period/ Cost of capital
Note that the depreciation & amortization from the most recent period is reinvested back into the business to keep its earnings power intact.

There are only three estimation inputs that you need to derive this value. The first is the operating income. While it is convenient to use the operating income from the most resent year as the base value, you may choose to use an average over a few years for cyclical and commodity companies. The second is the tax rate. Again, while the effective tax rate is the easiest to access, you may decide to replace it with a marginal tax rate, if you feel that the company will revert to that rate over time. The third is the cost of capital. While you can compute the cost of capital for the firm in question, it may be far simpler to use the average cost of capital for the sector in which the firm operates. There is one variant worth considering. If you feel that the assets of the face obsolescence, you may decide to assume that the earnings from these assets will be available only for a finite period rather than forever. The equation for value of assets in place has to be modified to be an annuity, instead of a perpetuity.

Price paid for growth: DCF
Once you have derived a value for assets in place, you can estimate what you are paying for growth by looking at the traded value of the firm, computed as the enterprise value of the business (market value of equity plus debt minus cash). The difference between the traded enterprise value and the value of the assets in place can be considered the price paid for growth.

In the table below, we look at four firms, Microsoft, Kraft, Google and Linkedin, to illustrate this concept.

For each firm, we report the after-tax operating income and the cost of capital used to derive the value of the assets in place. By comparing this number to the enterprise value of the firm, we then compute, on a percent basis, the proportion of the price that goes towards growth.  What are we to make of these numbers? For Microsoft, you can justify the entire market value of the firm with the value of just assets in place.  For Kraft and Google, about 40% of the price paid is for expected future growth. For Linkedin, it is almost 99% of the value. Does the fact that Microsoft's entire value is justified by assets in place make it  a better investment than Linkedin? Not necessarily, since we have not valued growth explicitly and growth can destroy value. In my next post, I will look at the value of growth at each of these companies and consequences for investors who have paid much higher prices.

Note that this entire analysis can also be done in purely equity terms, with net income divided by cost of equity to derive the growth value in equity in assets in place. If you do so, you can compare the market capitalization (rather than enterprise value) of the firm to the assets in place. The difference will be the price paid for growth.

Price paid for growth: Relative valuation
High growth companies often trade at high multiples of earnings, book value or revenues and the “premium’ is usually justified as the price for growth.  This premium can be in enterprise value multiples, such as EV/EBITDA, EV/Sales or EV/Invested capital:
EV growth premium = Actual EV multiple - EV multiple for assets in place
With Google, for instance, the EV/EBIT multiple for just assets in place can be computed to be 7.90, obtained by dividing the intrinsic value of assets in place ($92,761 million) by the operating income ($11,742 million). It's actual EV/EBIT multiple is 13.01, estimated by dividing the actual enterprise value of $152,784 million by the same operating income. The growth premium in the EV/EBIT multiple is therefore 5.11 (13.01- 7.90).

The premium can also be stated in terms of price earnings ratios, as the difference between the PE ratio that you actually pay compared to the PE ratio that you would pay for just the assets in place.
PE premium = Actual PE ratio - PE ratio for assets in place
You can estimate the PE ratio for assets in place, either from the cost of equity directly (PE ratio for assets in place = 1/ Cost of equity) or by backing the equity value from the intrinsic value of assets in place (and subtracting out the debt and adding back cash). Using Google as an example again (with debt of $4,204 million, cash of $44,460 million and net income of $9,737 million):
Intrinsic value of equity in assets in place = $ 92,761 - $4,204 + $ 44,460 = $132,818
PE for assets in place = $132,818/ $9,737 = 13.64
Actual PE = $192,840/$9,737 = 19.80
Growth premium in PE = 19.80 - 13.64 = 6.26

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Facebook: Sowing the wind, reaping the whirlwind

        Last Thursday, about 24 hours prior to the initial public offering, I posted on what I thought would happen on the opening day. I argued that this was the most pre-priced IPO in history, with transactions in the private share market providing information on what investors would be willing to pay for the stock. That was the basis for my view that those expecting a large jump on the opening day were likely to be disappointed and that this would be the Goldilocks IPO, with a 10-15% bump at open. I also felt that the stock was overvalued by about a third and that what happened on the opening day would be revealing not just for Facebook, but for all social media companies. The stock did open up about 12% and faded very quickly to the offering price by the end of the day. In fact, without active support from the investment banks, it would have dropped below. In the last few days, the stock has cratered, declining to about $32 at the time of this post. Here are the lessons I am taking away from this process:

Pricing versus Valuation
Pricing is an exercise of gauging demand and supply, reading investor moods and determining what people will pay for an asset, rather than what it is worth. Valuation is about estimating what an asset is worth, given its earning potential, growth and risk. You can tell whether an investor or analyst is a “pricer” or “valuer” by looking at the tools that he or she uses. The tools of choice for most pricers are relative valuation (multiples such as PE or EV multipes), where you assess how much you will pay for an asset by looking at what others are paying for similar assets (usually other companies in the same business), and technical analysis (where you use charts and indicators to gauge shifts in demand). The tools of choice for “valuers” are either discounted cash flow (DCF) or accounting based (building off book value) models.

A great deal of what passes for valuation in corporate board rooms, investment banks and portfolio management is pricing, not valuation, and the evidence is clear, especially with Facebook. In the weeks leading up to the IPO, an army of banks, led by Morgan Stanley, was working on setting an “offering” price for Facebook. While I am sure that there was an intrinsic valuation done somewhere along the way, I will also wager that it was done to preserve appearances and that it had little or nothing to do with the price that was eventually set. To set that price, my guess is that the banks used two variables: the prices at which investors were transacting in the private share market for Facebook (in the mid-40s) and the feedback that they were getting from institutional investors on how much they would be willing to pay for the stock. Much of the chatter about whether Facebook was a good buy or not was framed in terms of pricing, with the optimists arguing that it was a bargain because you were paying less per user than you were at other social media companies and the pessimists arguing that it was expensive because it was trading at a much higher multiple of earnings or revenues than Google or Apple. Any attempt at full-fledged valuation, where you confronted the uncertainty and attempted to make estimates, was viewed as an exercise in speculation and guesswork.  I also think that this is why the conspiracy theories, where Morgan Stanley fed inside information about future growth to institutional investors prior to the IPO and where the poor retail investors were the last ones to know, are misplaced. I am convinced that the growth rate and the prospects of the company were never key drivers in how this stock was priced and that if there is a story here, it is one of ineptitude and arrogance, rather than malice.

Momentum is fragile and requires illusions
Momentum is a strong force in markets but it is one that we don’t understand yet and don’t believe that we ever will. It is after all not only the basis for the madness of crowds and behavioral finance, but also of that most feared phenomenon in markets, the dreaded bubble. Not only is momentum driven by market moods and perceptions, but it is fragile and based ultimately upon an illusion. After all, most momentum investors don’t view themselves as such, and choose to rationalize their behavior using “fundamental’ factors. Thus, in the midst of every bubble, investors delude themselves that it is not a bubble by looking for a good reason: that tulip bulbs would become scarcer in the future, that dot com companies would dominate every business that the operated in and that the demand for real estate would always outstrip supply.

In their ideal scenario, I am sure that the investment banks hoped that the momentum that they were detecting in the private share markets and in their conversations with institutional investors would continue into the opening day and the weeks after. So, what happened on the opening day? I believe that the momentum shifted and that the hubris of the company and the bankers in the days leading up to opening day contributed significantly to it happening. Rather than maintain the illusion that the offering price was justified by fundamentals, nebulous though they might have been, the parties involved seemed to completely abandon any illusions about value and made it a starkly momentum game. This was manifested in the hiking of the offering price to $ 38 on Thursday evening and in insiders in the company publicly bailing out at the offering price. Even the maddest of crowds, when constant confronted with proof that they are being viewed as suckers, will wake up, and to the dismay of the company and the banks, it happened an hour into the offering.

What now?
Much as I would like to believe that what has happened in the last couple of days to Facebook stock is a vindication of valuation, I am a realist. There is no fury that matches that of a disillusioned crowd and I believe that what you are seeing is momentum investors, who were promised quick riches if they bought Facebook stock, bailing out. Will they stop selling at fair value? Since they have no idea what it is, why should they? If momentum shifts in the past are any indicator, you should see the price of Facebook drop not just to its intrinsic value (you have mine, but yours may be different), but to below that value. Since the company is the poster-child for the “social media” sector, I think that you will see this momentum shift play out on other social media companies.

Would I buy Facebook, Linkedin, Groupon or any other social media company? Social media is an umbrella under which you have diverse firms, some with more clearly defined business models than others and some with stronger barriers to entry than others, and when momentum shifts, investors tend not be discriminating. In the words of that eminent philosopher, Justin Bieber, you “never say never” and some of these stocks are likely to be bargains, sooner rather than later. If you are a value investor, you should be ready.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Facebook and "Field of Dreams": Hoodies, Hubris and Hoopla

In mid-February, I posted my valuation of Facebook and my thoughts on what would happen at the IPO. Since the actual offering date is tomorrow and the frenzy mounts, I thought it would make sense to revisit those posts.

1. Valuation Update
In my February 16 post on the company, I attached my valuation of the company, based on the S-1 filing as of that date. Quickly reprising that valuation, I valued the equity in the company at $29/share (assigning an overall value of about $72 billion for Facebook's equity), with the following key assumptions:
a. Revenues growing to $44 billion in ten years, with a compounded revenue growth rate of 40% for the next 5 years, fading down over time
b. A pre-tax operating margin of about 35%, higher than Google's 30% and on par with Apple
c. Reinvestment (in internal projects and acquisitions) that generate a $1.50 in revenue for every dollar in capital.
d. A cost of capital of 11.42% initially, fading down to 6.50% in steady state

So, what have we learned about Facebook in the last three months that may change this valuation?
a. Facebook wants growth and will pay for it: Facebook has acquired three companies in the last couple of months, Instagram, Tagtile and Glancee. While the Tagtile and Glancee deals were a continuation of a long term strategy of buying small firms with technologies that augment the Facebook experience, Instagram represented a new front: a "more" expensive acquisition of a company that brought with it potential "new users". My guess is that a publicly traded Facebook, with access to far more capital, will continue making acquisitions with the intent of delivering promised revenue growth and that the pace (and the size) of acquisitions will pick up if (or as) internal growth slackens. That is mixed news for investors: the good news is that it increases the odds that the predicted growth in revenues will be delivered but the bad news is that Facebook may pay more for this growth than anticipated.

b. Mark Zuckerberg is lord and master of this company: While there has never been any doubt about the autocratic power structure at Facebook, the last three months have brought home that this is Zuckerberg's company. If news stories are to be believed, the decision to buy Instagram (at least at the final price) was made by Zuckerberg, with little input from the board. If you are going to be a stockholder in Facebook, you should get used to this scene being played out in small and big ways over the next few years.

c. The "Field of Dreams" business model: Finally, Facebook's value still lies in its promise, rather than in actual numbers. Remember the line from the movie, "Field of Dreams", where Kevin Costner wanders through a corn field and hears a voice that tells him that "if you build it, he will come". With Facebook and other social media companies, this line can paraphrased as "if you get the users, they (products, advertising) will come". While I do not want too much of a single story, the news story of GM abandoning its Facebook advertising should provide a cautionary note to the optimistic view that Facebook can easily convert its monstrously large user base into advertising fodder.

Bottom line: Revisiting the valuation, there is not a great deal I would change as a result of news over the last few weeks: a higher revenue growth rate (45% compounded with revenues growing to $ 56 billion) accompanied by lower margins (30%) and more reinvestment ($1.25 of revenues for every dollar invested) delivers an estimate of value that stays at the $70-$80 billion range. 

2. Pricing (IPO) Update
When I labeled this the "IPO of the century" in February, I was speaking tongue in cheek. After all, the century is young and there are other IPOs to come. While there is little that you will learn about the value of the company from the IPO process, there is a great deal that we can learn about human behavior and the ecosystem that feeds off big deals.

a. The bankers will do anything to be part of a "big deal": As you track the news stories, it is quite clear that the bankers need the Facebook deal more than Facebook needs the bankers. In fact, I am quite surprised that Facebook did not follow the Google model and bypass the investment bankers entirely and set up an auction. I think that the only reason that they chose to follow the conventional route is because investment banks are essentially doing this deal at cut rate prices and bending to Facebook's will at every turn..

b. And Mark Zuckerberg know it:  As someone who has never been comfortable wearing a tie or a suit, I must confess that I found the brouhaha over Zuckerberg's hoodie to be hilarious. I don't particularly care for Zuckerberg's corporate governance, but I, for one, have never believed that your professionalism is determined by what you wear. I am sure that Bruno Iskil, who lost billions for JP Morgan, wore a very expensive suit, while making his trades. I think Zuckerberg, in addition to mimicking one of his idols, Steve Jobs, was sending a message to Wall Street about who has the upper hand in this game.

c. Investors are replaying an age-old phenomenon: Individual investors are clearly caught up in the mood of the moment, lining up to get allotments of Facebook shares. Is it a bubble? Who knows? If those who forget history are destined to repeat it, it sure looks like a replay of events from the past, and for those who do no remember them, I have a reading suggestion.

d. The insiders: While I don't assume that insiders are infallible, it is telling that they are heading for the exits at the same time as individuals are piling in. Is it possible that they think that the stock is being priced at the top end of the value range? Do they not trust Mark Zuckerberg? Inquiring minds want to know and i guess we will find out as events unfold.

Bottom line: I don't think that there has ever been an IPO where investment bankers have had more information (from private share market prices to institutional investor feedback) to work with, when pricing the stock, than this one. I would be very surprised, if the stock were overpriced; the bankers and the company have too much too lose. I would be equally surprised if the stock were dramatically under priced; a pop of 50% or even 25% would reflect very badly on the bankers' pricing skills. In short, this is shaping up to be a Goldilocks IPO, at least in the initial hours: a pop of about 10-15% (just right for both the bankers and the company). The question is how long the pop will last. This company is too big and too public to stage manage in the weeks after the IPO. If the pop fades quickly, perhaps even by the end of trading tomorrow, I think it is a very bad sign for the momentum game in all social media stocks. 

3. Investment strategies
So, what should investors do about Facebook? You can play the IPO game, and I have described some of the ways you could do it, in an earlier post.  Generically, here are the four strategies you can adopt:
a. Short term buy: It may be too late for you to get in at the offering price, but if you believe in the short term momentum story, you can buy right as the market for Facebook opens tomorrow morning, hope to ride the crest of the price move up as other investors doing the same and exit before they do.
b. Short term sell: If you think that the hype is overdone and that disappointment will set in very soon, you can sell short right after the market opens tomorrow, especially if it does not open with a significant pop, with the intent of covering in the next week or two.
c. Long term buy: You may be a believer in Facebook's potential and its capacity to dominate the advertising market and to sell products to its users. If so, you should buy sometime in the near future and hold for the long term. How long will you have to wait to see profits? It depends on how quickly Facebook converts its potential to large revenues and profits... could be a year.. could be five..
d. Long term sell:  If you do buy into my "Goldilocks IPO" scenario and come up with an estimate of intrinsic value close to mine, though, the investment with the best odds of success on Facebook would be a "long term, short" position on the stock.

Bottom line: I think that the hype is overdone, that disappointment will set in sooner or later and that the stock has far more downside than upside. You can put me in the last group (long term sell) though I am still searching for the most efficient (and least costly) way to execute this. 

4. Broader implications
Does the Facebook IPO have broader implications for the overall equity market? I have heard arguments that a successful Facebook IPO will lead to a rebirth of faith in equities among investors and be a shot in the arm for financial service firms. I think that is nonsense.

  • If Facebook does launch successfully tomorrow and the stock price goes up 10%, 20% or even 30%, I don't see how it will cause risk averse investors to come back to stocks. In fact, it will probably feed into their suspicion that the stock market has become a casino that they cannot trust their savings in. 
  • As for investment banks, a successful Facebook IPO may bring in some fees and commissions but it will not be a reflection of their skills at pricing or deal making. This is a stock that priced and marketed itself, with little or no help from the investment bankers.
In the same vein, a failed IPO (and I will leave you to define what failure means) will have implications for the pricing of social media companies but not much more.

Bottom line: Facebook, in spite of its ubiquitous presence in our lives, is just one company and not a very big one (at least in terms of revenues and earnings) yet. The market will obsess about it tomorrow but it will move on very quickly to the next worry, fear or fad.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lessons learned, unlearned and relearned: A semester of online class

In January, I posted of my intent to put my valuation and corporate finance classes online. As I finished my last sessions in both classes today, I thought it would be a good time to take stock of what the experience taught me about the future of education and how online education can evolve.

A quick review. I teach corporate finance and valuation classes to MBAs at the Stern School of Business at NYU and have done so for 26 years. While I have put my webcasts and material online for many years, I decided to both formalize and organize the online class this year, using a start up firm called Coursekit. It has since been able to attract more funds and has a new name, Lore.

The site allowed me to place the resources for the class (lecture notes, assignments, handouts and exams) and the webcasts of the class in one place, together with a social media add-on where anyone (me or any student registered in the class) could post links, thoughts or questions about the class. Here are the links to the classes:
Valuation: Link to Lore Valuation class
Corporate Finance: Link to Lore Corporate Finance class

I had a lot of fun, teaching these classes, and I am glad I did it, but I did get some valuable lessons in online learning.
1. Discipline is critical on both sides. I had to learn to be disciplined and organized, posting lectures on the site, as soon as I had the links, as well as any other resources I used in my regular class. On the participant side, I recognized how difficult it is for someone (often several time zones away), with a regular job and family commitments, to spend 80 minutes twice a week, watching lectures and then spending more time preparing for the class. While I don't have the statistics, I am sure that of the 2500+ people signed up for the corporate finance class and the 1900 people in the valuation class, relatively few will finish the class on time (today) and that many will not finish the class at all.
What I plan to do about it 
(1) I plan to leave the class online for at least the summer and perhaps longer. Hopefully, that will allow those whose constraint is time to catch up on the lectures and even do the projects for the class.
(2) I also plan to create a shorter (20 minute) version of each 80-minute lecture, delivering the high points of the session for those who really cannot spend the time needed for the full lecture.

2. Diverse backgrounds/experiences: I know that some people struggled more than others, partly due to language differences and partly because of diverse backgrounds (some were more well versed in statistics and accounting than others). I feel badly for those who struggled and wish I could have done more to help.
What I plan to do about it
(1) I am looking for online resources that I can direct people who are in search of basic accounting/ statistics classes to. If I cannot find anything, I will attempt to create my own makeshift versions.
(2) Next semester, I hope to rope in a  few people who have been gracious enough to offer their help and start a tutorial component to the class. Together, we may be able to fill the gap.

3. Technology:  Technology is still evolving and that there were roadblocks, on both sides. On my side, there were at least two sessions in my corporate finance class where the recording system failed, and I had to make recordings to fill in. On the other side, those users who tried to watch the webcasts on Google Chrome were stymied (Don't even ask...) and some had trouble with bandwidth.
What I plan to do about it
(1) Fix the recording system at Stern so that there are no recording failures. Improve the audio and video quality.
(2) Use more conduits for the lectures (iTunes U, YouTube) to allow those who have trouble downloading to be able to go elsewhere to get the material.

In short, there is a great deal that I can do to make the online learning experience a richer, more interactive one, and I plan to keep working on it. For those of you who were and are part of this experiment, thank you for giving it a shot. For those of you who were disappointed in it, I am sorry and I will work on making it better.

As a final point, for those who would rather take your classes in person, I am preparing for two executive valuation seminars that I will be delivering during the next month.
a. The first is a two-day valuation seminar in Mumbai, India, on May 24 and 25. You can get details about the seminar by clicking here.
b. The second is an open-enrollment three-day valuation seminar that I teach every year at the Stern School of Business in New York. This year, it will be on June 4, 5 and 6. While it is intense, I manage to cover almost all of the material that I teach in my regular MBA class (which lasts 14 weeks). You can get details about it by clicking here.