What is Market Capitalisation

Market capitalisation is the total value of a company's outstanding shares in the stock market.
What is Market Capitalisation
3 mins
16 January 2024

Market cap is the total value of a company's stock, found by multiplying the stock price by the number of outstanding shares.

Market cap helps investors assess a company's size, growth potential, and risk level, and it's widely used in financial analysis and investment strategies.

What is market capitalisation?

Market cap is the total value of a company's stock, found by multiplying the stock price by the number of outstanding shares. In simpler terms, it reveals the market's collective perception of a company's worth. Calculated by multiplying the stock's current market price by the total number of outstanding shares, market cap offers a snapshot of a company's size, influence, and relative position in the market.

Market capitalisation formula

The formula for market capitalisation is elegantly straightforward:

Market capitalisation = Current stock price × Total outstanding shares

By multiplying the stock's current market price by the total number of outstanding shares, we arrive at the company's market cap.

Importance of market cap

Market capitalisation is far more than just a numerical representation. It carries profound importance and serves several crucial roles in the financial ecosystem.

  1. Universal method
    The market cap is a universal yardstick for comparing companies, irrespective of their industry or sector. It provides a common ground for evaluating companies of varying sizes.
  2. Precision in suggestion
    Investors often categorise stocks based on market cap. This classification helps in offering investment suggestions that align with a person's risk appetite.
  3. Affects the index
    Market cap plays a pivotal role in stock market indices. Stocks with higher market caps exert more influence on the index's movements. Therefore, changes in the market cap of prominent companies can sway the index significantly.
  4. Helps in comparison
    By analysing the market caps of companies within the same sector, investors can discern relative strengths and weaknesses, identifying potential investment opportunities or risks. Moreover, comparing the market caps of companies to the overall market or specific indices provides insights into broader market trends and valuations.
  5. Balanced portfolio
    Investors often aim to build a diversified portfolio by including companies with varying market caps. A well-balanced portfolio might consist of a mix of large-cap, mid-cap, and small-cap stocks.

Types of market cap

Market capitalisation is typically categorised into five main types, based on a company's size. These categories are not set in stone, but they provide a general framework for classification:

  1. Nano cap: Companies with an extremely small market cap, usually under Rs. 200 crore, fall into this category. They are often start-ups or micro-enterprises.
  2. Micro cap: Micro-cap companies have a market cap between Rs. 200 crore and Rs. 500 crore. They are relatively small and can be riskier investments.
  3. Small cap: Small-cap companies have a market cap ranging from Rs. 500 crore to Rs. 5,000 crore. They are typically more established than micro-caps but still have room for growth.
  4. Mid-cap: Mid-cap companies have market caps between Rs. 5,000 crore and Rs. 20,000 crore. They often represent a balance between stability and growth potential.
  5. Large cap: Large-cap companies have a market cap exceeding Rs. 20,000 crore. They are well-established and usually considered stable investments.

Limitations of market cap

Limitations of using market capitalisation as a stock market metric include:

  1. Excludes fundamental factors: Market cap does not consider a company's financial health, profitability, or debt levels. Therefore, two companies with the same market cap may have vastly different financial positions.
  2. Short-term volatility: Market cap can be highly influenced by short-term price fluctuations, which may not reflect a company's long-term prospects accurately.
  3. Ignores non-publicly traded assets: Market cap does not account for non-publicly traded assets, such as privately held subsidiaries or valuable intellectual property, which can be significant for some companies.
  4. Limited for comparing different sectors: Comparing the market caps of companies in different sectors may not provide meaningful insights due to varying business models and industry dynamics.
  5. Not suitable for valuation: Market cap alone is not a suitable metric for valuing a company or determining whether a stock is overvalued or undervalued.
  6. Affected by stock splits and buybacks: Stock splits and buybacks can artificially change a company's market cap without altering its intrinsic value.
  7. May not reflect growth potential: Smaller companies with lower market caps may have substantial growth potential but can be overlooked in favour of larger, more established firms.

Factors that impact market caps

Several factors can impact a company's market capitalisation:

  • Stock price: Any change in the stock's price directly affects the market cap.
  • Outstanding shares: A company can influence its market cap by issuing more shares or buying back existing ones.
  • Earnings and profitability: A company's financial performance can drive investor sentiment and, consequently, its market cap.
  • Market sentiment: Market sentiment, influenced by news, events, and economic conditions, can lead to rapid changes in market cap.

Other ways of evaluating a company’s value

While market capitalisation is a pivotal metric for assessing a company's value, it's essential to recognise that it's not the sole determinant. Several other factors come into play when evaluating a company's worth, especially in the context of Indian companies.

  1. Fundamental analysis: This approach involves scrutinising a company's financial statements, including its income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. By delving into metrics such as revenue growth, profitability, debt levels, and cash flow generation, investors can gain deeper insights into a company's financial health and performance over time.
  2. Relative valuation: Comparing a company's valuation metrics, such as price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, price-to-book (P/B) ratio, and dividend yield, with those of its industry peers can offer valuable perspectives. For instance, a company with a lower P/E ratio compared to its peers may be considered undervalued, suggesting a potential investment opportunity.
  3. Discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis: DCF analysis estimates a company's intrinsic value by forecasting its future cash flows and discounting them back to their present value. This method accounts for the time value of money and provides a comprehensive assessment of a company's long-term prospects.
  4. Comparable company analysis (CCA): CCA involves comparing key financial metrics and multiples of a target company with those of similar companies in the industry. By identifying comparable companies with similar business models, growth prospects, and risk profiles, investors can gauge a company's relative valuation within its peer group.
  5. Qualitative factors: Apart from quantitative metrics, qualitative factors such as industry dynamics, competitive positioning, management quality, regulatory environment, and macroeconomic trends play a crucial role in evaluating a company's value. These qualitative considerations provide valuable context and can influence investment decisions alongside quantitative analysis.

While market capitalisation offers a convenient yardstick for assessing a company's value, investors should employ a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to gain a comprehensive understanding of its intrinsic worth. By integrating various valuation approaches and considering the broader market and industry dynamics, investors can make more informed investment decisions tailored to their objectives and risk tolerance.

Market capitalisation vs. Shareholders' equity

Market capitalisation and Shareholders' equity are two distinct financial metrics that provide insights into different aspects of a company's financial health. Here is a comparative explanation of both:

Market capitalisation:

  1. Definition: Market capitalisation, often abbreviated as "market cap," represents the total value of a publicly traded company's outstanding shares in the stock market. It is the market's collective valuation of the company.
  2. Calculation: Market capitalisation = Current stock price × Total outstanding shares
  3. Significance: Market cap reflects how much the market values the company as a whole. It considers the current market price of the stock and the number of shares available for trading.
  4. Market perception: Market cap is influenced by investor sentiment, market dynamics, and perceptions of the company's future prospects. It can fluctuate daily based on stock price movements.
  5. External measures: Market cap is an external metric and reflects how the stock market perceives the company's value. It does not provide insights into the company's financial health.
  6. Use: Investors often use market cap to categorise companies into different size classes, such as large-cap, mid-cap, or small-cap, for investment analysis.

Shareholders' equity:

  1. Definition: Shareholders' equity, also known as stockholders' equity or equity capital, is a component of a company's balance sheet. It represents the residual interest in the assets of the company after deducting liabilities.
  2. Calculation: Shareholders' equity = Total assets - Total liabilities
  3. Significance: Shareholders' equity reflects the company's net assets or book value. It shows what would remain for shareholders if all assets were liquidated and debts paid off.
  4. Financial health: Shareholders' equity is an internal financial metric that provides insights into a company's financial health. It indicates the company's net worth from an accounting perspective.
  5. Stability indicator: A strong and positive shareholders' equity indicates financial stability and a healthy balance between assets and liabilities.
  6. Use: Shareholders' equity is used for financial analysis, including assessing a company's financial leverage, solvency, and book value per share.
Aspect Market capitalisation Shareholders' equity
Definition Reflects the market's valuation of a company's equity. Represents the company's net assets on its balance sheet.
Influenced by Market sentiment and stock price fluctuations. Accounting principles and doesn't change as frequently.
Purpose Used for investment categorisation. Used for assessing financial health.
Consideration of debt and assets Doesn't consider a company's debt or assets. Accounts for all assets and liabilities.
Forward or historical indicator Forward-looking metric influenced by market expectations. A historical snapshot of a company's financial position.

Market capitalisation vs. enterprise value

Market capitalisation (market cap) represents the total value of a company's outstanding shares, calculated by multiplying the current market price per share by the total number of outstanding shares. It reflects the market's perception of a company's total equity value.

Enterprise value (EV), on the other hand, represents the total value of a company's equity and debt, taking into account its cash and equivalents. It provides a more comprehensive view of a company's total value, including both its equity and debt holders.

In summary, market capitalisation focuses solely on the equity value of a company, while enterprise value considers both equity and debt.


In conclusion, market capitalisation is a pivotal metric that defines a company's stature in the financial world. Its straightforward formula and universal applicability make it a valuable tool for investors seeking to understand a company's size and position in the market. However, it should be used in conjunction with other financial indicators to make well-informed investment decisions.


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Frequently asked questions

Why is market capitalisation important?

Market capitalisation is vital as it offers insights into a company's size, influence, and relative position in the market. It helps investors make informed decisions, categorise stocks, and build diversified portfolios.

What is the meaning of market capitalisation?

Market capitalisation, often abbreviated as market cap, is a metric that quantifies the total value of a publicly traded company's outstanding shares. It reflects the market's perception of a company's worth.

What is the market cap of India?

The market capitalisation of India's stock market is dynamic and changes over time. As of 9th October 2023, it stands at Rs. 32,126,509.28 crore, making it one of the largest stock markets globally.

Is a high market cap good?

A high market cap indicates that a company is well-established and commands a significant presence in the market. While it can be a positive sign, it is essential to consider other factors like financial performance and growth potential when evaluating an investment.

What is the market cap of an enterprise?

Market capitalisation (market cap) represents the total value of a company’s outstanding shares. It’s calculated by multiplying the stock price by the number of shares.

How does the capital market differ from the money market?

The capital market and the money market are two parts of finance that work differently. The capital markets provide a platform for businesses, governments, and individuals to raise capital, manage risk, and invest for the future. Meanwhile, the money market deals with short-term borrowing and lending, involving things like Treasury bills and short-term loans.

Is market cap the same as market value?

No, market cap and market value aren't the same. Market cap is about the total value of a company's shares, while market value refers to the stock price in the market.

What happens when the market cap increases?

A higher market cap can attract more investors, boost the company's reputation, and possibly raise its stock price.

Does market cap affect stock prices?

An increase in market cap doesn’t necessarily mean the company’s stock price will rise. Stock prices are subjective and influenced by various factors. Market cap reflects investor demand for a company’s stock.

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