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BOQ shares offer franking credits, but is BOQ cheap?

The Bank of Queensland Limited (ASX: BOQ) is currently trading around $6. Let’s run through two standard BOQ share price valuation tools an analyst might use to provide his or her valuation on an ASX bank share like BOQ.

As you may know, this is the general version. Keep in mind, general 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 Bank of Queensland Limited, Bendigo & Adelaide Bank Ltd (ASX: BEN) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) 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.

PE ratios: how to use it to value the BOQ share price

It’s likely that if you have been actively investing in shares for more than a few years you will have heard about the PE ratio. The price-earnings ratio or ‘PER’ compares a company’s share price (P) to its most recent full-year earnings per share (E). If you bought a coffee shop for $100,000 and it made $10,000 of profit last year, that’s a price-earnings ratio of 10x ($100,000 / $10,000). ‘Earnings’ is just another word for profit. So, the PE ratio is basically saying ‘price-to-yearly-profit multiple’.

The PE ratio is a very general tool but it’s not perfect so it’s critical to use it with other techniques (see below) to back it up. That said, one of the standard ratio strategies even professional analysts will use to value a share is to compare the company’s PE ratio with its competitors to try to determine if the share is unreasonably high or cheap. It’s akin to saying: ‘if all of the other banking sector stocks are priced at a PE of X, this one should be too’. We’ll go one step further than that in this article. We’ll apply the principle of mean reversion and multiply the profits per share (E) by the sector average PE ratio (E x sector PE) to calculate what an average company would be worth.

If we take the BOQ share price today ($5.75), together with the earnings (aka profits) per share data from its 2023 financial year ($0.68), we can calculate the company’s PE ratio to be 8.5x. That compares to the banking sector average PE of 13x.

Next, take the profits per share (EPS) ($0.68) and multiply it by the average PE ratio for BOQ’s sector (Banking). This results in a ‘sector-adjusted’ PE valuation of $8.56.

How we’d value BOQ shares

A dividend discount model or DDM is a much more robust way of valuing companies in the banking sector — if it’s done correctly (take your time!).

DDM valuation models are some of the oldest valuation models used on Wall Street and even here in Australia. A DDM model uses 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 remain consistent or grow slightly for the forecast period (e.g. 5 years or forever).

To make this DDM easy to understand, we will assume last year’s dividend payment ($0.44) climbs 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 BOQ shares is $8.39. However, using an ‘adjusted’ dividend payment of $0.52 per share, the valuation goes to $9.32. The expected dividend valuation compares to Bank of Queensland Limited’s share price of $5.75. 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 ($0.74), our valuation of the BOQ share price estimate to $13.32.

Where to from here

Simple valuation models like these can be handy tools for analysing and valuing a bank share like Bank of Queensland Limited. 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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