This paper investigates the influence of corporate legitimacy on financial performance. For the first time, the assessment of corporate legitimacy is built on the foundations of the public value theory in this context and draws back to perceptions of value creation for society. This approach contests the contemporary understanding of corporate value creation which is predominantly expressed in financial-economic figures and, therefore, one-dimensional. Thus, the determination of the public value metric follows a four-dimensional measurement approach for an organization's value creation: 1) Its performance in its core business, 2) its moral obligations, 3) its contribution to social cohesion, and 4) negative and positive experiences that are associated with its operations. The empirical part presents a performance analysis of high and low public value stock portfolios for the year 2014. The results indicate that corporate legitimacy is positively associated with stock portfolio returns and that high public value portfolios are both less volatile and market sensitive. The analysis sheds new light on the debate of value creation for society. It moves beyond environmental, social, and governance (ESG) report scans and surveys by analyzing the dimensions of value creation perceptions by the public.