I have often seen people knowingly or unknowingly anchoring to the price of a stock, perceiving say a Rs 100 stock as cheaper than a Rs 1000 stock. Not only is this is bad because as an investor you should be worrying about the business fundamentals not the share price fluctuations, but does not consider the size of the business or the scale of it’s sales or profitability at all.

To illustrate this idea, consider the following

MRF Limited
Current Price: Rs 39557

Nestle India Limited
Current Price:  Rs 6923

Gati Limited
Current Price Rs 224

ITC Limited
Current Price: Rs 332

What does this tell you? Absolutely nothing of value on its own. This isn’t a race where a share starts at it’s face value of say 10 and continues growing from there on. Along the way, adjustments like splits, bonuses and share buybacks need to be considered.

Thus we get to the idea of number of shares outstanding. When you buy a share, you are buying a small % of the company, or to be precise 1/(no of shares outstanding of the company). You can use this multiple to figure out the market capitalization of the company as well as the total earnings.

Assume this cake represents the business

Each slice represents a share of the goods. Whether you slice it 10 ways or 20, the size of the cake is not affected by how it is sliced, only the size of the slice is changed. The quality of the cake is also completely independent of the size and manner of slicing. You can have a terrible large cake or a wonderful small cake (and vice versa) depending on the skill of the baker (management) and the ingredients used (fundamental economics of the business)

This post might seem simplistic to those who are aware of fundamental valuation, but I think this basic analogy needs to be drilled into every investor’s head.

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