In this course, we will discuss fundamental principles of trading off risk and return, portfolio optimization, and security pricing. We will study and use risk-return models such as the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and multi-factor models to evaluate the performance of various securities and portfolios. Specifically, we will learn how to interpret and estimate regressions that provide us with both a benchmark to use for a security given its risk (determined by its beta), as well as a risk-adjusted measure of the security’s performance (measured by its alpha). Building upon this framework, market efficiency and its implications for patterns in stock returns and the asset-management industry will be discussed. Finally, the course will conclude by connecting investment finance with corporate finance by examining firm valuation techniques such as the use of market multiples and discounted cash flow analysis. The course emphasizes real-world examples and applications in Excel throughout. This course is the first of two on Investments that I am offering online (“Investments II: Lessons and Applications for Investors” is the second course).
The over-arching goals of this course are to build an understanding of the fundamentals of investment finance and provide an ability to implement key asset-pricing models and firm-valuation techniques in real-world situations. Specifically, upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
• Explain the tradeoffs between risk and return
• Form a portfolio of securities and calculate the expected return and standard deviation of that portfolio
• Understand the real-world implications of the Separation Theorem of investments
• Use the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and 3-Factor Model to evaluate the performance of an asset (like stocks) through regression analysis
• Estimate and interpret the ALPHA (α) and BETA (β) of a security, two statistics commonly reported on financial websites
• Describe what is meant by market efficiency and what it implies for patterns in stock returns and for the asset-management industry
• Understand market multiples and income approaches to valuing a firm and its stock, as well as the sensitivity of each approach to assumptions made
• Conduct specific examples of a market multiples valuation and a discounted cash flow valuation
This course was previously entitled “Financial Evaluation and Strategy: Investments” and was part of a previous specialization entitled "Improving Business and Finances Operations", which is now closed to new learner enrollment. “Financial Evaluation and Strategy: Investments” received an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 based on 199 reviews over the period August 2015 through August 2016. You can view a detailed summary of the ratings and reviews for this course in the Course Overview section.
This course is part of the iMBA offered by the University of Illinois, a flexible, fully-accredited online MBA at an incredibly competitive price. For more information, please see the Resource page in this course and onlinemba.illinois.edu.
In this module, you will become familiar with the course, your instructor, your classmates, and our learning environment. The orientation also helps you obtain the technical skills required for the course.
Module 1: Investments Toolkit and Portfolio Formation
In Module 1, we will build the fundamentals of portfolio formation. After providing a brief refresher of basic investment concepts (our toolkit), a summary of historical patterns of stock returns and government securities in the U.S. is provided. We then consider general examples of portfolio choice to highlight the tradeoffs between “risk” and return. We end the module with a discussion of dominated assets and efficient portfolio formation, emphasizing real-world examples and practice in Excel solving for the optimal portfolio given certain constraints (such as the amount of volatility we will accept in our portfolio).
Module 2: Motivating, Explaining, & Implementing the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM)
In Module 2, we will develop the financial intuition that led to the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), starting with the Separation Theorem of Investments. We will understand that in a CAPM setting, only the market-wide risk of an asset is priced – securities with greater sensitivity to the market are required by investors to yield higher returns on average. We will also learn how to interpret regressions that provide us with both a benchmark to use for a security given its risk (determined by its beta), as well as a risk-adjusted measure of the security’s performance (measured by its alpha).
Module 3: Testing the CAPM, Multifactor Models, & Market Efficiency
In Module 3, we will discuss different asset-pricing models, the pros and cons of each, and market efficiency. In particular, we will test the effectiveness of the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and examine survey data concerning its use by chief financial officers (CFOs) of firms. Predictable patterns in stock returns, such as the size and value effects, will also be examined and the Fama-French 3-Factor Model will be introduced. Market efficiency will be discussed in this module, as well as its implications for the asset-management industry and observed patterns in stock returns.
Module 4: Investment Finance and Corporate Finance: Firm Valuation
In Module 4, we will learn about the two key approaches to valuing a company or stock: market multiples and discounted cash flow. We will learn how to value perpetuities and will discuss how caution should be exercised in terms of projecting both the growth in long-term cash flows and the riskiness of those cash flows – two key components of the perpetuity formula. Finally, to gain experience with the market multiples approach, we will estimate a value of Google at the time of its initial public offering (IPO) back in 2004 using market data on Yahoo! as a comparable firm.
In this module, we say goodbye to the Investments course as key takeaways from the course are reviewed. A tease is also provided to topics that will be covered in Professor Weisbenner's second course on Investments.