Practical Considerations

The practical considerations associated with estimating the value of the option to expand are similar to those associated with valuing the option to delay. In most cases, firms with options to expand have no specific time horizon by which they have to make an expansion decision, making these open-ended options, or, at best, options with arbitrary lives. Even in those cases where a life can be estimated for the option, neither the size nor the potential market for the product may be known, and estimating either can be problematic. To illustrate, consider the Home Depot example discussed above. While we adopted a period of five years, at the end of which the Home Depot has to decide one way or another on its future expansion in France, it is entirely possible that this time frame is not specified at the time the store is opened. Furthermore, we have assumed that both the cost and the present value of expansion are known initially. In reality, the firm may not have good estimates for either before opening the first store, since it does not have much information on the underlying market.

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