In value analysis, although price to earnings (P/E) and price to sales (P/S) are most preferred by investors, the underrated price-to-book ratio (P/B ratio) is also an easy-to-use valuation tool for identifying low-priced stocks with exceptional returns…[Here are 5 such stocks you should seriously consider buying now.]
The original article has been edited here for length (…) and clarity ([ ])
What is Book Value?
Book value is the total value that would be left over, according to the company’s balance sheet, if it goes bankrupt immediately. In other words, this is what shareholders would theoretically receive if a company liquidates all its assets after paying off all its liabilities.
It is calculated by subtracting total liabilities from the total assets of a company. In most cases, this equates to the common stockholders’ equity on the balance sheet. However, depending on the company’s balance sheet, intangible assets should also be subtracted from the total assets to determine book value.
Understanding P/B Ratio
By comparing the book value of equity to its market price, we get an idea of whether a company is under- or overpriced. However, like P/E or P/S ratio, it is always better to compare P/B ratios within industries.
- A P/B ratio less than one means that the stock is trading at less than its book value, or the stock is undervalued and therefore a good buy [but it] can also mean that the company is earning weak or even negative returns on its assets, or that the assets are overstated, in which case the stock should be shunned because it may be destroying shareholder value.
- Conversely, a stock with a ratio greater than one can be interpreted as being overvalued or relatively expensive but there is a caveat…[or] the stock’s price may be significantly high – thereby pushing the P/B ratio to more than one – in the likely case that it has become a takeover target, a good enough reason to own the stock.
…The P/B ratio isn’t without limitations. It is useful for businesses – like finance, investments, insurance, and banking or manufacturing companies – with many liquid/tangible assets on the books. However, it can be misleading for firms with significant R&D expenditures, high-debt companies, service companies or those with negative earnings.
- Price to Book (common Equity) less than X-Industry Median: A lower P/B compared with the industry average implies that there is enough room for the stock to gain.
- Price to Sales less than X-Industry Median: The P/S ratio determines how much the market values every dollar of the company’s sales/revenues — a lower ratio than the industry makes the stock attractive.
- Price to Earnings using F(1) estimate less than X-Industry Median: The P/E ratio (F1) values a company based on its current share price relative to its estimated earnings per share – a lower ratio than the industry is considered better.
- PEG less than 1: PEG ratio links the P/E ratio to the future growth rate of the company. PEG ratio portrays a more complete picture than the P/E ratio. A value of less than 1 indicates that the stock is undervalued and investors need to pay less for a stock that has bright earnings growth prospect.
- Current Price greater than or equal to $5: They must all be trading at a minimum of $5 or higher.
- Average 20-Day Volume greater than or equal to 100,000: A substantial trading volume ensures that the stock is easily tradable.
- Zacks Rank less than or equal to #2: Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) stocks are known to outperform irrespective of the market environment.
- Value Style Score equal to A or B: Our research shows that stocks with a Value Score of A or B when combined with a Zacks Rank #1 or 2 offer the best opportunities in the value investing space.
Here are five of the 12 stocks that qualified the screening:
- PCM, Inc. (PCMI), a technology solutions provider, has a projected 3-5 year EPS growth rate of 20%. Currently, the stock has a Value Score of A and a Zacks Rank #2.
- Meritage Homes Corporation (MTH), a leading homebuilder, currently has a Zacks Rank #2. It has a 3–5 year EPS growth rate of 14.1% and a Value Score of B.
- Western Digital Corporation (WDC), the largest hard disk drive (HDD) producer in the United States, currently has a Zacks Rank #1. It has a 3-5 year EPS growth rate of 19% and a Value Score of A.
- Tutor Perini Corporation (TPC), a construction company, currently has a Zacks Rank #2 and a Value Score of B. It has a 3-5 year EPS growth rate of 10%.
- Lam Research Corporation (LRCX) is a leading global provider of innovative wafer fabrication equipment and services to the semiconductor industry. The company has a projected 3-5 year EPS growth rate of 17.7%. Lam Research currently has a Zacks Rank #1 and a Value Score of A.
[The above being said,]…the P/B ratio is not particularly relevant as a standalone number. One should also analyze other ratios like P/E, P/S, and debt to equity before arriving at a reasonable investment decision.