Why IP Matters in Investing

By Kirsteen Mackay


Learn why considering IP can help retail investors uncover hidden value and make better-informed decisions for their investment portfolios.

IP Investing

Intellectual property (IP) is a factor that retail investors should consider when looking to buy shares in a publicly listed company. There are several reasons for this, but ultimately, investors who consider IP can uncover hidden value not reflected on balance sheets.

As the global economy becomes increasingly driven by knowledge and innovation, the importance of IP rights in businesses cannot be overstated. IP assets are crucial for a company's competitive positioning, long-term growth, and sustainable revenue streams, contributing to overall business success.

Read on to discover why IP matters for investors seeking to make informed decisions and optimize their investment portfolios.

The Knowledge Economy

As the global economy transitions from industrial to knowledge-based, IP has become a key driver of growth and competitiveness. Companies that develop innovative products, processes, and services increasingly rely on IP rights to protect their creations and maintain a competitive edge. This makes IP an essential aspect of any forward-looking investment strategy. 

Increased Valuation

IP rights can significantly contribute to a company's overall valuation. Patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets can offer companies a competitive advantage, increasing their attractiveness to investors. Companies with strong IP portfolios often demonstrate greater market potential and resilience against competitors, which can lead to higher valuations and better long-term prospects.

Attracting and Retaining Talent

Innovation is the lifeblood of successful businesses, and the ability to attract and retain top talent is crucial for maintaining a competitive edge. A robust IP portfolio signals a commitment to innovation, which can help companies lure the best and brightest minds in their industries. This, in turn, can lead to a virtuous cycle of innovation and IP generation, further enhancing the company's appeal to investors.

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Why IP Matters for Investors

Assessing Competitive Advantage

When evaluating potential investments, it is essential for investors to consider the target company's competitive advantage. A strong IP portfolio can provide a company with a critical edge over its competitors, enabling it to create and maintain market share. By analyzing a company's IP assets, investors can gain a clearer understanding of its long-term growth prospects and competitive position within its industry.

Risk Management

Understanding a company's IP portfolio can also help investors assess potential risks. Companies with weak or non-existent IP protection may face higher risks of legal disputes, competitor infringement, or loss of market share. Evaluating the strength and scope of a company's IP rights can help investors make better-informed decisions and reduce their exposure to risk.

Identifying Potential Acquisition Targets

IP rights can make companies attractive targets for acquisitions, as acquirers may seek to acquire valuable patents, trademarks, or copyrights to bolster their own IP portfolios or eliminate competition. Monitoring IP developments within an industry can help investors identify potential acquisition targets, which may result in significant value creation for shareholders.

 Stephen Robertson, Founder & CEO, Metis Partners, comments:

In M&A, the multiple that a buyer will pay for an acquisition can vary from, say 8 – 14 times EBITDA in a sector. So what makes one buyer pay 8 times for one acquisition and 14 times for another – the answer of course, is IP and intangibles. The smart buyer knows the hidden value in the TARGET that they want to exploit post-acquisition. The smart buyer in M&A has done his research and knows the IP assets in the TARGET maybe drive higher sustainable margins over time, offer proven YOY growth in markets important to the buyer, or as Warren Buffet says, the TARGET company may have a really strong competitive moat, based on intangibles and IP. These are reasons why similar companies are sold for differing multiples which can run into hundreds of millions.

The Value of IP in an Innovation-Driven Economy

In today's knowledge-driven economy, intellectual property has become a more valuable factor for investors to consider. A strong IP portfolio can signal a company's commitment to innovation, increase its valuation, and provide a competitive advantage that may contribute to long-term growth.

For instance, the global patent landscape for green technology has experienced remarkable growth, with patents for wind power, hydrogen energy, and eco-friendly vehicles more than doubling in just the past five years.

By understanding the role of IP in investing, investors can make better-informed decisions, manage risk more effectively, and optimize their investment portfolios for success in the innovation-driven landscape.

All companies possess a certain degree of intellectual property; however, not all of them are aware of its market worth. IP provides a critical advantage in the competitive landscape, making it a vital factor to understand when evaluating a business. Furthermore, a company that consistently informs the market about its recent advancements and achievements establishes a documented history of its intellectual property growth. To learn more, you may enjoy our Investor’s Guide to IP, or you could read about how governments are prioritizing IP policies.

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In this article:

Author: Kirsteen Mackay

This article does not provide any financial advice and is not a recommendation to deal in any securities or product. Investments may fall in value and an investor may lose some or all of their investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

Kirsteen Mackay does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the above article.

Kirsteen Mackay has not been paid to produce this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

Digitonic Ltd, the owner of ValueTheMarkets.com, does not hold a position or positions in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the above article.

Digitonic Ltd, the owner of ValueTheMarkets.com, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

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