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Fully franked dividends aren’t the only reason to watch National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX:NAB) shares

The National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) is currently trading around $28. Let’s run through two standard NAB share price valuation tools an analyst might use to provide his or her analyst price target on an ASX bank share like NAB.

As you may know, this is the rough version. Keep in mind, rough doesn’t necessarily equal ‘good’. So, at the bottom of this article, we’ll provide some further resources to complement our potential indicative valuations. Basically, it goes without saying but these valuations are not guaranteed.

Bank shares like National Australia Bank Ltd, Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) and ANZ Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) are very popular in Australia because they tend to have a stable dividend history, and often pay franking credits.

In this article, we’ll explain the basics of investing in ASX bank shares. But if you’re interested in understanding the value of dividend investing in Australia (i.e. the benefits of franking credits), check out this video from the education team at Rask Australia.

To access our valuation models, videos and tutorials, consider subscribing to the Rask Australia YouTube channel. You will receive the latest (and free) value investing videos from our analysts. Click here to subscribe.

Price-earnings sector valuation

The price-earnings ratio, which is short for price-to-earnings, is a basic but popular valuation ratio. It compares yearly profit (or ‘earnings’) to today’s share price ($28.07). Unfortunately, it’s not the perfect tool for bank shares, so it’s crucial to use more than just PE ratios for your analysis.

That said, it can be handy to compare PE ratios across shares from the same sector (banking) and determine what is reasonable — and what isn’t.

If we take the NAB share price today ($28.07), together with the earnings (aka profits) per share data from its 2020 financial year ($0.805), we can calculate the company’s PE ratio to be 34.9x. That compares to the banking sector average PE of 21x.

Next, take the profits per share (EPS) ($0.805) and multiply it by the average PE ratio for NAB’s sector (Banking). This results in a ‘sector-adjusted’ PE valuation of $17.24.

Dividend models (a 101 walkthrough)

A DDM is a more interesting and robust way of valuing companies in the banking sector, given that the dividends are pretty consistent.

DDM valuation modeling is one of the oldest methods used on Wall Street to value companies, and it’s still used here in Australia by bank analysts. A DDM model takes the most recent full year dividends (e.g. from last 12 months or LTM), or forecast dividends, for next year and then assumes the dividends grow at a consistent rate for a forecast period (e.g. 5 years or forever).

To make this DDM easy to understand, we will assume last year’s dividend payment ($0.60) rises at a fixed rate each year.

Next, we pick the ‘risk’ rate or expected return rate. This is the rate at which we discount the future dividend payments back to today’s dollars. The higher the ‘risk’ rate, the lower the share price valuation.

We’ve used a blended rate for dividend growth and a risk rate between 6% and 11%, then got the average.

This simple DDM valuation of NAB shares is $11.44. However, using an ‘adjusted’ dividend payment of $1.23 per share, the valuation goes to $22.05. The expected dividend valuation compares to National Australia Bank Ltd’s share price of $28.07. Since the company’s dividends are fully franked, you might choose to make one further adjustment and do the valuation based on a ‘gross’ dividend payment. That is, the cash dividends plus the franking credits (available to eligible shareholders). Using the forecast gross dividend payment ($1.76), our valuation of the NAB share price guesstimate to $31.50.

It’s time for further research

Simple valuation models like these can be handy tools for analysing and valuing a bank share like National Australia Bank Ltd. And while these models can even make you feel warm and fuzzy inside because you have ‘put a value on it’.

That said, it’s far from a perfect valuation (as you can see). While no-one can ever guarantee a return, there are things you can (and probably should) do to improve the valuation before you consider it as a worthwhile yardstick.

For instance, studying the growth or increase in total loans on the balance sheet is a very important thing to do: if they’re growing too fast it means the bank could be taking too much risk; too slow and the bank might be too conservative. Then, study the remainder of the financial statements for risks.

Areas to focus on include the provisions for bad loans (income statement), their rules for assessing bad loans (accounting notes) and the sources of capital (wholesale debt markets or customer deposit). On the latter, take note of how much it costs the bank to get capital into its business to lend out to customers, keeping in mind that overseas debt markets are typically more risky than customer deposits due to exchange rates, regulation and the fickle nature of investment markets.

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