If you are baffled by the ratios in the stock market, you are not alone. You can easily find a whirlwind of figures and ratios. Some of them, such as P/E and market cap are easily explained and understood. However, you might be able to find more value from less known ratios such as Price/Book.
How It Is Calculated
The first step is to calculate book value per share. Book value is the total shareholder’s equity (assets minus liabilities) less preferred stock. This is the accounting value of the company. In theory, the book value is the most conservative valuation method for a company. It is the net value of the company’s assets if it were to stop operating today.
Book Value = (Assets – Liabilities) – Preferred Stock
To calculate book value per share, simply divide book value by the number of common shares outstanding.
Book Value Per Share = Book Value / Shares Outstanding
Next divide the share price by the book value per share to find the Price/Book Ratio.
Price/Book Ratio = Share Price / Book Value Per Share
What It Really Means
This ratio tells you if the stock price of a company is significantly higher than the value of tangible assets of a company. If the stock price is higher, the company must have a solid business model to contribute value to the share price. If a company has a bad business model, the stock price should be closer to the book value per share.
How I Use It
Warren Buffet is known for “value investing.” Part of his analysis is to look at the underlying value of a company’s assets. If the stock price is lower than the book value per share, investors are practically guaranteed a gain even in the worst case scenario.
When I am looking for investment opportunities, I can use a stock screener to find BV/Share investment opportunities where the ratio is very low. If the BV/Share is less than 1.0, investigate why the company’s stock is performing so poorly. It is almost certainly worth more than its current value if the book value is higher than the share price.
If the book value per share is incredibly high, it does not necessarily mean a company is a bad investment. Software companies, for example, usually do not have many tangible assets. However, a low BV/share could indicate a company is a good investment.
Your Favorite Metric?
When you are looking at investment opportunities, what is your favorite metric or ratio? Please share in the comments.
Image by epicharmus.