The Easiest Intrinsic Value Calculation - 10 Cap Method

This method is an easy way of getting a quick idea of a businesses intrinsic value. Here's how:

"Simplicity has a way of improving performance through enabling us to better understand what we are doing." - Warren Buffet

Key Takeaways

  1. Origin and Utility: The 10 Cap method, adapted from real estate by Phil Town, provides a simple tool to assess stock values against market prices.

  2. Owner Earnings: Introduced by Warren Buffett, owner earnings offer a deeper, more accurate measure of a company's profitability than traditional financial metrics.

  3. Simplified Evaluation: The 10 Cap uses a straightforward formula (Owner Earnings / Market Capitalization) to quickly identify undervalued stocks.

  4. Practical Application: To apply the 10 Cap, calculate owner earnings and market cap, then divide them to get the capitalization rate, indicating potential undervaluation.

  5. Advantages and Limitations: The method is easy to use for stable companies but should be complemented with other techniques due to its limitations in forecasting growth and economic changes.

The Roots of the 10 Cap Method

The 10 Cap method, originally a foundational concept in real estate investment, uses the capitalization rate or "cap rate" to measure the potential return on investment. This rate is determined by dividing a property's net operating income by its current market value, yielding a percentage that reflects the investment yield relative to property cost. Recognizing the utility of this simple, direct measure, Phil Town, an acclaimed investment educator, adapted the real estate cap rate for stock market use, coining it as the 10 Cap method. This adaptation has allowed investors to assess stock values with a real estate assessment tool, providing a straightforward snapshot of a company’s investment potential compared to its market price. By borrowing this technique from real estate, Town provided a bridge between tangible asset valuation and stock market investments, making it easier for everyday investors to apply and understand.

The Concept of Owner Earnings

Introduced by Warren Buffett, the concept of "owner earnings" offers a more accurate measure of a company’s profitability, tailored for investors. This metric adjusts net income by adding back non-cash charges such as depreciation and amortization, and subtracting the capital expenditures necessary to maintain long-term competitive viability. Owner earnings aim to provide a genuine reflection of the cash flow available to shareholders, distinct from more traditional metrics like net income, which may be skewed by accounting practices, or free cash flow, which might exclude crucial reinvestment costs. Essentially, owner earnings depict the real economic benefit to shareholders, representing the consistent, actual cash profit generated by a business, thus giving investors a clearer, more tangible understanding of a company's financial health and its ability to generate shareholder value.

10 Cap Calculation

At its core, the 10 Cap method is embodied in a simple formula: Owner Earnings / Market Capitalization. This calculation enables investors to quickly evaluate a company's valuation by comparing its owner earnings against its market capitalization, which is the total market value of a company’s outstanding shares. The formula’s outcome, the capitalization rate, is a crucial indicator in this method. If this rate is high, it suggests that the company may be undervalued relative to the real economic benefits it can offer its shareholders, highlighting potential investment opportunities. This method simplifies the complex evaluations often associated with stock picking, providing a clear, quantitative measure that helps investors make informed, efficient decisions in the stock market. By focusing on what a company genuinely earns versus its perceived market value, the 10 Cap offers a pragmatic, easy-to-apply tool for gauging investment worthiness.

Figure It Out What GIF by CBC


To truly grasp the practical utility of the 10 Cap method, let's walk through a step-by-step guide on how to apply it when evaluating stocks. First, determine the Owner Earnings of the company. As discussed, this involves adjusting the net income by adding back non-cash charges and subtracting the necessary capital expenditures. Next, find the company's current Market Capitalization from any financial news website or stock market app. Now, simply divide the Owner Earnings by the Market Capitalization to get the capitalization rate. For example, imagine a well-known consumer goods company, "Generic Corp," reports Owner Earnings of $200 million and has a Market Capitalization of $2 billion. Using the 10 Cap method, the capitalization rate would be 10% ($200 million / $2 billion), suggesting that Generic Corp may be fairly valued or even undervalued, making it a potential buy for value investors.

Why Use the 10 Cap?

The 10 Cap method offers several compelling advantages for investors looking for a quick and effective way to assess stock value. One of its main benefits is its simplicity. The formula is straightforward and doesn't require complex financial modeling, making it accessible even to those new to investing. Additionally, this method is particularly effective for evaluating established companies with consistent cash flows. It provides a clear snapshot of a company’s economic standing, allowing investors to quickly determine whether a stock is undervalued and potentially ripe for investment. This ease of use and the actionable insights it provides make the 10 Cap a valuable tool in an investor's arsenal.


While the 10 Cap method is a useful tool, it’s important to recognize its limitations and the potential pitfalls of relying solely on this approach. One major limitation is its dependence on stable, predictable cash flows, which may not be present in all companies, particularly those in volatile industries or growth-oriented sectors. Furthermore, the 10 Cap does not account for future growth prospects or changes in the economic environment, which can significantly affect a company's valuation. Investors should be cautious and consider using this method in conjunction with other valuation techniques, such as discounted cash flow analysis, especially when evaluating companies with fluctuating earnings or significant growth potential. This balanced approach can provide a more comprehensive view of a company's value, mitigating the risks associated with relying solely on the 10 Cap method.


As we wrap up our exploration of the 10 Cap method, I hope you've found valuable insights into how this straightforward tool can streamline your investment decisions. The method, while simple, offers a solid starting point for evaluating the intrinsic value of established companies. Whether you're a seasoned investor or just starting out, incorporating the 10 Cap into your toolkit can enhance your ability to spot undervalued stocks quickly. If you have any questions about how to apply this method to your investment strategy, or if you'd like to learn more about our referral program that offers exclusive benefits, don't hesitate to reply to this email. We really value your engagement and are here to support your investment journey every step of the way.

Happy investing!

P.S. I want to give a special shoutout to the newsletters I currently enjoy reading:

How satisfied were you with the article length?

Help us improve

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

The information is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice or recommendation and should not be considered as such. Do your own research.

Join the conversation

or to participate.