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Going Value (Classic Reprint)

Going Value (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Going Value

Incidentally, certain criticisms of the Commission's methods in determining values will also be touched upon.

What is Meant by "Going Value"?

Like most other intangible concepts, the concept of value can be made definite and distinct when we begin to think about it in an ordinary common sense way. Similarly the concept of going value can be made tangible and distinct when we cease thinking about it vaguely. Just as value in general has been defined in the sense of reasonable or normal cost and just as by means of this definition we have been able to get reasonably close valuations of tangible physical property, so by a similar definition will it be possible to get reasonably close valuations of an intangible element like "going value." The cost principle contained in this definition will, if properly applied, act as a chemical reagent to precipitate what was formerly held in solution. This definition of "going value" is about as follows; "Going value represents the reasonable cost or financial sacrifice incurred by the investor in building up a business which will yield a fair return upon the fair value of the tangible physical property."

In explanation of the principle contained in the above definition, I will quote from what I said in one of the early decisions of the Wisconsin Railroad Commission (in Hill v. Antigo Water Co. 3 W. R. C. R. 623, 706, one of its earliest decisions on the subject). The opinion reads:

"A mere physical plant, no matter how perfect or how well it is adapted to the purpose for which it is intended, amounts to but little unless it has or can obtain a paying business. Without business it is a dead mass instead of a living concern earning profits. To have profits it must have business or customers who avail themselves of the services it renders at rates that yield an adequate income. But new plants are seldom paying at the start. Several years are usually required before they obtain a sufficient amount of business or earnings to cover operating expenses, including depreciation and a reasonable rate of interest upon the investment. The amount by which the earnings fail to meet these requirements may thus be regarded as deficits from operation.

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