it is easy to believe an important function of the commodities markets is price discovery, there is a simple relationship between a hard asset and its' price. now with the stock markets, i have troubles believing there is a similar relationship. from reading about how the markets operated 100 years ago, i have concluded investors were primarily interested in dividends. The company's ability to continue to pay, or increase dividends determined the price direction of the shares. value was a relationship between dividend rate, par value, and interest rates. after what we all have seen over the past 10 years, what are the important relationships? value determinants are prone to error, and small changes can significantly impact any "target price" and brokerage recommendations. i have a feeling, if the methods used 2-3 years ago to determine value were used today, many stocks would have negative target prices. is the function of the markets to reward one company over it's peers by assigning a higher value to it's shares, allowing more efficient access to capital markets? if this is the case, why aren't these companies taking advantage of the opportunities? /j.