Investing

5 Stocks Trading With Incredibly Low Price-to-Book Values

Analysts are constantly using quantitative screens to search the stock universe for the best performing categories. In a recent report from Merrill Lynch’s Savita Subramanian, the superb strategist gives readers a quantitative gold mine of data, and there is one stock metric that not only may indicate overall company strength, but might provide investors looking for true value an easy path.

In a momentum stock market, investors rarely look at anything other than the stock price, but when the market gets rich, and shares start to get shaky like we are seeing now, they often turn to value metrics to find stocks to buy. One of the best indicators is a company’s price-to-book (P/B) value. Book value is a measure of all of a company’s assets: stocks, bonds, inventory, manufacturing equipment, real estate and other assets. If a company’s P/B ratio is less than one, the shares are selling for less than the value of the company’s assets.

The Merrill Lynch team has screened the top 50 S&P 500 companies for the lowest P/B values. They take the most recent month-end price, which was the last day of June, divided by latest reported book value per share. The list is dominated by energy companies that have been hit hard.

Genworth Financial Inc. (NYSE: GNW) come in with the absolutely lowest P/B value at an astonishing 0.25. Genworth has leadership positions in mortgage insurance and long-term care insurance, as well as product offerings in life insurance and fixed annuities that assist consumers in solving their home ownership, insurance and retirement needs. The stock closed Thursday at $7.43.

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Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) is one of the largest contractors of offshore drills in the world and its shares have been sold off severely. The Merrill Lynch team calculates the P/B value at an incredibly low 0.44. The company specializes in technically demanding sectors of the global offshore drilling business with a particular focus on deepwater and harsh environment drilling services, and believes that it operates one of the most versatile offshore drilling fleets in the world. The shares closed on Thursday at $13.67.

Noble Corp. (NYSE: NE) is another deepwater driller that makes the Merrill Lynch list. The stock is currently trading at a very low 0.57 P/B value. The company owns and operates one of the most modern, versatile and technically advanced fleets in the offshore drilling industry. Noble performs, through its subsidiaries, contract drilling services with a fleet of 32 offshore drilling units, consisting of 17 semisubmersibles and drillships and 15 jackups, focused largely on ultra-deepwater and high-specification jackup drilling. Shares closed Thursday at $12.97.

Ensco PLC (NYSE: ESV) is yet another offshore driller that hits the Merrill Lynch screen. This company is trading at a very low 0.61 P/B value. The company operates one of the newest ultra-deepwater rig fleets and the largest premium jackup fleet. Ensco has a major presence in the most strategic offshore basins across six continents. The stock closed Thursday at $18.28.

News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWSA) is a top media company that makes the Merrill Lynch top 5. The company trades at a small 0.69 P/B value. The company operates through News and Information Services, Cable Network Programming, Digital Real Estate Services, Book Publishing and Digital Education segments. The shares closed on Thursday at $14.72.

ALSO READ: 5 Long-Term Opportunities Forming in MLPs

While it is obvious that the drillers dominate because of their expensive hard assets and low prices due to the energy sell-off, that may not necessarily make them the best buy based on P/B value. However, should there be a rally in oil pricing back to, say, the $70 level over the next two years, they could end up being bargain basement buys.

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