3 ASX shares trading below their book values

Looking for undervalued stocks? Price-to-book values may be your guide.

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Finding undervalued stocks can be a great way to score big in the share market. One way to spot these opportunities is by looking for stocks trading below their book value. 

Book value represents a company's worth based on its assets minus its liabilities. Think about your house, for example. If your house is valued at $1 million and you have a mortgage of $300,000, the net asset value (NAV) of your house is $700,000.

When a stock's market price is below its NAV or book value, it might mean the market is undervaluing the company. 

While book value and NAV are similar in their meaning, book value refers to the value as reported in the balance sheet, whereas NAV could be based on what a company believes is the fair value based on the market value of the assets.

Before we dive in, please note this information is for idea-generation purposes only. Always do your own research or talk to a financial advisor before making an investment decision. 

The price-to-book value (P/B) ratio-based approach is easy to understand and valuable for industries like real estate, where physical assets are essential.

On the other hand, let's remember some stocks are cheap for a reason, such as poor business prospects. Also, different accounting methods can affect the calculation of book value, potentially misleading investors. 

With that caveat out, here's my list of three ASX shares trading under their book values today.  

HomeCo Daily Needs REIT (ASX: HDN)

HomeCo Daily Needs is a property trust that owns and manages high-quality, convenience-based retail assets across Australia. The company focuses on neighbourhood retail and large-format retail centres. The REIT boasts over 1,200 tenants spread across 51 properties. 

The company reported a book value of approximately $3 billion in December 2023, or a book value per unit of $1.44, representing a P/BV ratio of 0.9x using today's share price.

It is a consistent dividend payer, offering a dividend yield of 6.7% using its distributions over the last twelve months. 

Morgans recently recommended HomeCo Daily Needs REIT to buy due to the resilience of its cash flows and its exposure to accelerating click and collect trends. 

Rural Funds Group (ASX: RFF)

Rural Funds Group owns and leases a diversified portfolio of high-quality farming assets. The REIT's investments span various sectors, including cattle, vineyards, cotton, and almonds, providing stable returns for its investors. 

Rural Funds is trading at approximately 0.7x P/BV ratio using its reported book value of $1.8 billion as of December 2023. Its book value represents $2.74 on a per-unit basis, having grown from $1.55 in FY19.

The P/BV ratio becomes even more attractive using what Rural Funds itself believes is the true value of its assets. The business discloses its adjusted net asset value (NAV) which includes the market value of its water entitlements. Its adjusted NAV on 31 December 2023 was $3.07 per unit, indicating an adjusted P/BV ratio of 0.66x.  

As my colleague Tristan highlighted, Rural Funds is an ASX dividend stock worth considering. The business pays an annual distribution of 11.73 cents per unit, offering a distribution yield of 5.8% at the current share price. 

Australian Agricultural Company (ASX: AAC)

As one of Australia's largest integrated cattle and beef producers, Australian Agricultural Company manages a diverse portfolio of properties across approximately 6.4 million hectares across Queensland and the Northern Territory. 

The company produces high-quality beef, catering to the domestic and international markets. 

The global cattle market has had a rocky ride over the past few years, pushing pressure on Australian Agricultural Company's valuation.

The company is valued at a P/BV ratio of 0.6x, compared to its historical range of 0.5x to 1.4x. 

This is one of the reasons why Bell Potter maintained its positive view on the company. The broker said: 

RFF trades at a historical high discount to its market NAV per unit ($2.78 pu) at ~28%. While we are in general seeing large discounts to NAV in ASX listed farming and water assets to market NAV, the discount that RFF is trading appears excessive and we are seeing a valuable opportunity in RFF.

The Australian Agricultural Company share price is trading at $1.47 at the time of writing.

Motley Fool contributor Kate Lee has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Rural Funds Group. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended HomeCo Daily Needs REIT. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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