How to Value bank stocks?

| Investments | 15 seen

The other day, here in Tbilisi, I had an interesting meeting with an institutional banker focused on banks. During our approximately one-hour coffee meeting, we discussed some options trading, covered calls, put selling, and touched on valuing bank stocks. My interest in this meeting was to get some fresh insight, as at that moment I was holding/trading options with 3 banks stocks (MS, BAC and USB).

My acquaintance pointed out that I might be completely wrong in valuing stocks now and suggested boiling it down to price-to-preprovision profit, when talking about bank stocks. 

In this article, I decided to explore and cover more details on how to value bank stocks. 

Valuing bank stocks can be a nuanced process due to the unique nature of the banking industry. Here are some key methods commonly used by investors and analysts to value bank stocks:

Price-to-Book Ratio (P/B Ratio): This ratio compares a bank's market value (stock price) to its book value (assets minus liabilities). A low P/B ratio may indicate that the stock is undervalued relative to its assets.

Price-to-Earnings Ratio (P/E Ratio): The P/E ratio compares the bank's stock price to its earnings per share (EPS). A lower P/E ratio may suggest that the stock is undervalued compared to its earnings potential.

Dividend Discount Model (DDM): Banks often pay dividends to shareholders. The DDM estimates the present value of all expected future dividends. Investors can then compare this value to the current stock price to assess whether the stock is undervalued or overvalued.

Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Analysis: DCF analysis estimates the present value of a bank's future cash flows, including earnings, dividends, and potential growth. By discounting these cash flows back to their present value, analysts can determine the intrinsic value of the stock.

Net Interest Margin (NIM) Analysis: Banks make money primarily through the interest earned on loans and investments. Analyzing a bank's net interest margin, which is the difference between interest income and interest expenses, can provide insights into its profitability and future earnings potential.

Asset Quality and Loan Portfolio Analysis: Evaluating the quality of a bank's assets and the performance of its loan portfolio is crucial. Factors such as non-performing loans, loan loss reserves, and credit risk can significantly impact a bank's valuation.

Regulatory Environment and Macroeconomic Factors: Consideration of regulatory changes, interest rate movements, economic conditions, and government policies is essential when valuing bank stocks. Changes in regulations or economic conditions can have a significant impact on a bank's profitability and valuation.

Comparable Company Analysis (CCA): Comparing key financial metrics and valuation multiples of the target bank with those of its peers can provide additional insights into its relative valuation within the industry.

These might be the more popular ways on how to value bank stocks, but now lets cover the one solution, my institutional banker suggested: price-to-preprovision profit (PPP).

Understanding Price-to-Preprovision Profit (PPP)

PPP, a lesser-known but potent metric in the realm of banking, offers a unique perspective on a bank's profitability. Unlike traditional valuation metrics such as price-to-book or price-to-earnings ratios, PPP zeroes in on the bank's preprovision profit, excluding the impact of loan loss provisions.

Why PPP Matters

  1. Risk Mitigation: By excluding provisions for loan losses, PPP provides a clearer picture of a bank's core operating profitability, helping investors mitigate the impact of credit risk on valuation.
  2. Stability Assessment: PPP offers insights into a bank's ability to generate profits from its core banking activities, irrespective of fluctuations in credit quality or economic conditions.
  3. Comparative Analysis: When comparing banks within the same industry, PPP serves as a level playing field, allowing investors to assess relative profitability without the distortion of differing risk profiles.

Calculating PPP

The calculation of PPP is straightforward:

PPP = (Net income+Loan Loss Provisions)/Total Assets


  • Net Income represents the bank's total profits after expenses.
  • Loan Loss Provisions are the provisions set aside to cover potential loan losses.
  • Total Assets reflect the bank's total asset base.

Key Considerations

  1. Quality of Assets: While PPP provides insights into a bank's profitability, investors should also scrutinize the quality of its assets and the effectiveness of risk management practices.
  2. Economic Environment: External factors such as interest rates, regulatory changes, and macroeconomic conditions can influence a bank's PPP and should be considered in conjunction with other valuation metrics.
  3. Long-Term Outlook: While PPP offers a snapshot of current profitability, investors should also evaluate the bank's growth prospects and strategic initiatives to assess its long-term value.

While traditional metrics have their merits, delving into lesser-explored territories like PPP can uncover hidden gems and provide a more holistic view of a bank's true worth. As investors navigate the complexities of the market, leveraging insights from PPP can be a potent tool in their arsenal, guiding them towards sound investment decisions in the dynamic world of banking stocks.

How about you? How are you valuing bank stocks? Leave a comment, readers and I would love to hear!