Risk, Return & Valuation

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This course is an introduction to the notion of risk, its relation to return, and the valuation of projects and companies. This is a capstone course to help you value projects and companies by applying your understanding of time value of money (TVM) and cash flows developed in the first three courses of this specialization. This course is part of a specialization titled “Foundational Finance for Strategic Decision Making” and is helpful if you are interested in applying to an MBA degree program or learning the foundations of finance to be more effective in your career.

The pedagogy of the course is applied and problem-based with assignments covering every part of the course that each contain multiple problems that, by design, are introductory and simpler than the more real-world applications you will confront in the real world and more advanced courses. The assignments are all designed by the faculty lead and machine graded.


week 1: What is Risk?
-This course deals with the determination of the discount rate we have used in all previous courses to value projects, bonds and stocks. Combined with cash flows, the discount rate captures all aspects of financial valuation that is the main goal of this specialization and course. In the first week, we will try and understand risk as perceived by humans and develop a measure that is powerful and intuitive. Since this topic requires both art and science of finance, we will have three assignments in this course.

Week 2: Diversification, Risk & Return
-During this second week of the course, we will introduce one of the most powerful and intuitive model of modern finance - the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) - that forms the basis of our understanding of the relation between risk and return.

week 3: Leverage, WACC & Valuation
-During this week, we will understand the discount rate in a world where a company has both equity ad debt. This will require us to evaluate the impact of debt (also known as leverage) on the equity holders of the firm. We will develop the weighted average cost of capital. Finally, we will put together cash flows and WACC and get our first exposure to valuation with a full-blown application.

Week 4: Putting it All Together!
-This is the last week of this course and the specialization. We therefore wrap things up by providing some real world twists and a final assignment that evaluates your ability to put everything together.