Price to earnings (P/E) and price to sales (P/S) are the first ratios that come to an investor’s mind while narrowing down a list of undervalued stocks. However, the price-to-book ratio (P/B ratio), though underrated, is also an easy-to-use valuation tool for identifying low-priced stocks with high-growth prospects.
P/B ratio is calculated as below:
P/B ratio = market capitalization/book value of equity.
What’s Book Value?
There are several ways by which book value can be defined. 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 common stockholders’ equity on the balance sheet. However, depending on the company’s balance sheet, intangible assets should also be subtracted from 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 of 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. Thus, 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.
Moreover, 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 expenditure, high debt, service companies, or those with negative earnings.
In any case, the ratio is not particularly relevant as a standalone number. One should analyze other ratios like P/E, P/S, and debt to equity before arriving at a reasonable investment decision.
Screening Parameters 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 links the P/E ratio to the future growth rate of the company. The 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 prospects. 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 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 seven out of the 25 stocks that qualified the screening:
Foot Locker ( FL Quick Quote FL - Free Report) , a retailer of athletic shoes and apparel, has a projected 3-5-year EPS growth rate of 29.1%. It currently has a Zacks Rank #2 and a Value Score of A. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here. Hibbett, Inc. ( HIBB Quick Quote HIBB - Free Report) , a retailer of athletic-inspired fashion products, has a projected 3-5-year EPS growth rate of 22.4% It currently has a Zacks Rank #1 and a Value Score of A. Group 1 Automotive ( GPI Quick Quote GPI - Free Report) , a leading automotive retailer, has a projected 3-5-year EPS growth rate of 13.2%. It currently has a Zacks Rank #2 and a Value Score of A. ICL Group ( ICL Quick Quote ICL - Free Report) , a manufacturer of specialty fertilizers and specialty phosphates, flame retardants and water treatment solutions, has a Zacks Rank #2 and a Value Score of B. The company has a projected 3-5-year EPS growth rate of 24.4%. Conn’s ( CONN Quick Quote CONN - Free Report) , a specialty retailer, has a Zacks Rank #2 and a Value Score of A. The company has a projected 3-5-year EPS growth rate of 23.0%. Teck Resources Limited ( TECK Quick Quote TECK - Free Report) , a diversified resource company committed to mining and mineral development, has a projected 3-5-year EPS growth rate of 32.8%. It currently has a Zacks Rank #1 and a Value Score of B. Encompass Health Corporation ( EHC Quick Quote EHC - Free Report) , a provider of integrated healthcare services, has a projected 3-5-year EPS growth rate of 18.0%. It currently has a Zacks Rank #2 and a Value Score of A.
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