6 Buy-Ranked Bargains With Low P/B For Value Investors

Value investing offers an opportunity to enter the market and grab stocks that have otherwise been overlooked by the majority of investors and are thus trading at cheap multiples.

Though price to earnings (P/E) and price to sales (P/S) valuation tools are more commonly used for stock selection, the price-to-book ratio (P/B ratio) is also an easy-to-use metric for identifying bargain stocks with high-growth prospects. The P/B ratio compares the market and book value of the company.

The P/B ratio is calculated as below:

P/B ratio = market capitalization/book value of equity

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. Conversely, a stock with a ratio greater than one can be interpreted as being overvalued or relatively expensive.

For example, a stock with a P/B ratio of 2 means that we pay $2 for every $1 of book value. The higher the P/B, the more expensive the stock.

But there is a caveat. A P/B ratio less than one 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, 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.

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