One of the most popular and trusted forms of fundamental analysis is Book Value Per Share (BVPS), or a company’s “book value.” Book value per share is an accounting metric that calculates the per-share value of a company’s equity.
The book value per share of an undervalued stock is higher than its current market price, so book value per share can help investors appraise a stock price.
Knowing what book value per share is, how to calculate it, and how it differs from other calculations, can add yet another tool to an investor’s tool chest.
What Is Book Value Per Share?
Book Value per Share (BVPS) is the ratio of a company’s equity available to common shareholders to the number of outstanding company shares. This ratio calculates the minimum value of a company’s equity and determines a firm’s book value, or Net Asset Value (NAV), on a per-share basis. In other words, it defines the accounting value (i.e. book value) of a share of a company’s publicly-traded stock.
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Book Value Per Share vs Market Value Per Share
The Book Value Per Share provides information about how the value of a company’s stock compares to the current Market Value Per Share (MVPS), or current stock price. For example, if the BVPS is greater than the MVPS, the company’s stock market may be undervaluing a company’s stock.
The market value per share is forward-looking, since it’s based on what investors think a company should be worth, while book value per share is an accounting measure that uses historical data.
Recommended: Intrinsic Value vs Market Value, Explained
What Does Book Value Per Share Tell You?
Commonly used by stock investors and analysts, the Book Value Per Share (BVPS) metric looks at a company’s stock price to determine whether it’s undervalued compared to the stock’s current market price. An undervalued stock will have a BVPS higher than its current stock price.
If the company’s BVPS increases, investors may consider the stock more valuable, and the stock’s price may increase. On the other hand, a declining book value per share could indicate that the stock’s price may decline, and some investors might consider that a signal to sell the stock.
Book Value Per Share also theoretically reflects what shareholders would receive in a company liquidation after all its assets were sold and all of its liabilities paid. However, because assets would hypothetically sell at market value instead of historical asset values, this may not be an entirely accurate measurement.
If a company’s share prices dip below its BVPS, the company can potentially be vulnerable to a takeover by a corporate raider who could buy the company and liquidate its assets risk-free. Conversely, a negative book value indicates that a company’s liabilities exceed its assets, making its financial condition “balance sheet insolvent.”
Book Value Per Share solely includes common stockholders’ equity and does not include preferred stockholders’ equity. This is because preferred stockholders are ranked differently than common stockholders in the event the company is liquidated. If a corporate raider intends to liquidate a company’s assets, the preferred stockholders with a higher claim on assets and earnings than common shareholders are paid first and that amount gets deducted from the final shareholders’ equity distributed among common stockholders.
How to Calculate Book Value Per Share
An investor can apply BVPS to a stock by analyzing the company’s balance sheet. Specifically, an investor will need total asset value, cost of acquiring an asset, and accumulated depreciation of corporate assets which helps provide the most accurate BVPS figure.
Whereas some price models and fundamental analyses are complex, calculating book value per share is fairly straightforward. At its core, it’s subtracting a company’s preferred stock from shareholder equity and dividing that sum by the average amount of outstanding shares.
Book Value Per Share = (Shareholders’ Equity – Preferred Equity) / Total Outstanding Common Shares
Shareholders’ Equity = Total equity of all shareholders.
Total Outstanding Common Shares = Company’s stock currently held by all shareholders, including blocks held by institutional investors and restricted shares owned by preferred stockholders. This number may fluctuate wildly over time.
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Example of Book Value Per Share
Company X has $10 million of shareholder’s equity, of which $1 million are preferred stocks and an average of 3 million shares outstanding. With this information, the BVPS would be calculated as follows:
BVPS = ($10,000,000 – $1,000,000) / 3,000,000
BVPS = $9,000,000 / 3,000,000
BVPS = $3.00
How to Increase Book Value Per Share
A company can increase its book value per share in two ways.
Repurchase Common Stocks
A common way of increasing BVPS is for companies to buy back common stocks from shareholders. This reduces the stock’s outstanding shares and decreases the amount by which the total stockholders’ equity is divided. For example, in the above example, Company X could repurchase 500,000 shares to reduce its outstanding shares from 3,000,000 to 2,500,000.
The above scenario would be revised as follows:
BVPS = ($10,000,000 – $1,000,000) / 2,500,000
BVPS = $9,000,000 / 2,000,000
BVPS = $4.50
By repurchasing 1,000,000 common shares from the company’s shareholders, the BVPS increased from $3.00 to $4.50.
Increase Assets and Reduce Liabilities
Rather than buying more of its own stock, a company can use profits to accumulate additional assets or reduce its current liabilities. For example, a company can use profits to either purchase more company assets, pay off debts, or both. These methods would increase the common equity available to shareholders, and hence, raise the BVPS.
There are many methods that investors can use to evaluate the value of a company. By leveraging useful and insightful formulas such as a company’s Book Value Per Share, investors can determine a company’s value relative to its current market price. While it has limitations, the BVPS can identify companies that are undervalued (or overvalued) according to core fundamental principles, and it’s a relatively straightforward calculation that even beginner investors can use.
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