Category: Hurdle Rates

Data Update 4 for 2022: Risk = Danger + Opportunity!



In the first few weeks of 2022, we have had repeated reminders from the market that risk never goes away for good, even in the most buoyant markets, and that when it returns, investors still seem to be surprised that it is there. Investors all talk about risk, but there seems to be little consensus on what it is, how it should be measured, and how it plays out in the short and long term. In this post, I will start with a working definition of riskt that we can get some degree of agreement about, and then look at multiple measures of risk, both at the company and country level. In closing, I will talk about some of the more dangerous delusions that undercut good risk taking.

What is risk?

In the four decades that I have been teaching finance, I have always started my discussion of risk with a Chinese symbols for crisis, as a combination of danger plus opportunity:

Over the decades, though, I have been corrected dozens of times on how the symbols should be written, with each correction being challenged by a new reader. That said, thinking about risk as a combination of danger and opportunity is both healthy and all encompassing. It also brings home some self-evident truths about risk that we all tend to forget:

  1. Opportunity, without danger, is a delusion: If you seek out high returns (great opportunities), you have to be willing to live with risk (great danger). In fact, (Read more...)

Data Update 4 for 2022: Risk = Danger + Opportunity!



In the first few weeks of 2022, we have had repeated reminders from the market that risk never goes away for good, even in the most buoyant markets, and that when it returns, investors still seem to be surprised that it is there. Investors all talk about risk, but there seems to be little consensus on what it is, how it should be measured, and how it plays out in the short and long term. In this post, I will start with a working definition of riskt that we can get some degree of agreement about, and then look at multiple measures of risk, both at the company and country level. In closing, I will talk about some of the more dangerous delusions that undercut good risk taking.

What is risk?

In the four decades that I have been teaching finance, I have always started my discussion of risk with a Chinese symbols for crisis, as a combination of danger plus opportunity:

Over the decades, though, I have been corrected dozens of times on how the symbols should be written, with each correction being challenged by a new reader. That said, thinking about risk as a combination of danger and opportunity is both healthy and all encompassing. It also brings home some self-evident truths about risk that we all tend to forget:

  1. Opportunity, without danger, is a delusion: If you seek out high returns (great opportunities), you have to be willing to live with risk (great danger). In fact, (Read more...)

Data Update 4 for 2021: The Hurdle Rate Question!



What is a hurdle rate for a business? There are multiple definitions that you will see offered, from it being the cost of raising capital for that business to an opportunity cost, i.e., a return that you can make investing elsewhere, to a required return for investors in that business. In a sense, each of those definitions has an element of truth to it, but used loosely, each of them can also lead you to the wrong destination. In this post, I will start by looking at the role that hurdle rates play in running a business, with the consequences of setting them too high or too low, and then look at the fundamentals that should cause hurdle rates to vary across companies.

What is a hurdle rate?

Every business, small or large, public or private, faces a challenge of how to allocate capital across competing needs (projects, investments and acquisitions), though some businesses have more opportunities or face more severe constraints than others. In making these allocation or investment decisions, businesses have to make judgments on the minimum return that they would accept on an investment, given its risk, and that minimum return is referenced as the hurdle rate.  Having said that, though, it is worth noting that this is where the consensus ends, since there are deep divides on how this hurdle rate should be computed, with companies diverging and following three broad paths to get that number:

1. Cost of raising funds (capital): Since the (Read more...)

Data Update 4 for 2021: The Hurdle Rate Question!



What is a hurdle rate for a business? There are multiple definitions that you will see offered, from it being the cost of raising capital for that business to an opportunity cost, i.e., a return that you can make investing elsewhere, to a required return for investors in that business. In a sense, each of those definitions has an element of truth to it, but used loosely, each of them can also lead you to the wrong destination. In this post, I will start by looking at the role that hurdle rates play in running a business, with the consequences of setting them too high or too low, and then look at the fundamentals that should cause hurdle rates to vary across companies.

What is a hurdle rate?

Every business, small or large, public or private, faces a challenge of how to allocate capital across competing needs (projects, investments and acquisitions), though some businesses have more opportunities or face more severe constraints than others. In making these allocation or investment decisions, businesses have to make judgments on the minimum return that they would accept on an investment, given its risk, and that minimum return is referenced as the hurdle rate.  Having said that, though, it is worth noting that this is where the consensus ends, since there are deep divides on how this hurdle rate should be computed, with companies diverging and following three broad paths to get that number:

1. Cost of raising funds (capital): Since the (Read more...)