Financial Modelling

Written by admin on May 21st, 2011

proprietory (owned or exercisable by a single individual or a company); others are shared (can be exercised by many parties). Therefore, a project may have a portfolio of embedded real options; some of them can be mutually exclusive.


The terminology “real option” is relatively new, whereas business operators have been making capital investment decisions for centuries. However, the description of such opportunities as real options has occurred at the same time as thinking about such decisions in new, more analytically-based, ways. As such, the terminology “real option” is closely tied to these new methods. The term “real option” was coined by Professor Stewart Myers at the MIT Sloan School of Management; this happened most likely around 1977.


The concept of real options was popularized by Michael J. Mauboussin, the chief U.S. investment strategist for Credit Suisse First Boston and an adjunct professor of finance at the Columbia School of Business. Mauboussin uses real options in part to explain the gap between how the stock market prices some businesses and the “intrinsic value” for those businesses as calculated by traditional financial analysis, specifically discounted cash flows.


Additionally, with real option analysis, uncertainty inherent in investment projects is usually accounted for by risk-adjusting probabilities (a technique known as the equivalent martingale approach). Cash flows can then be discounted at the risk-free rate. With regular DCF analysis, on the other hand, this uncertainty is accounted for by adjusting the discount rate, using e.g. the cost of capital) or the cash flows (using certainty equivalents). These methods normally do not properly account for changes in risk over a project’s lifecycle and fail to appropriately adapt the risk adjustment. More importantly, the real options approach forces decision makers to be more explicit about the assumptions underlying their projections.


Generally, the most widely used methods are: Closed form solutions, partial differential equations, and the binomial lattices. In business strategy, real options have been advanced by the construction of option space, where volatility is compared with value-to-cost, NPVq. Latest advances in real option valuation are models that incorporate fuzzy logic and option valuation in fuzzy real option valuation models.


Real options are a field of academic research, and at the present one of the leading names in academic real options is Professor Lenos Trigeorgis (University of Cyprus). An academic conference on real options is organized yearly (Annual International Conference on Real Options).

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