Bank of Nova Scotia (TSX:BNS)(NYSE:BNS), the third-largest bank in Canada in terms of total assets, announced fourth-quarter earnings results on the morning of December 1, and its stock has responded by falling over 2% in the trading sessions since. Let’s break down the quarterly results to determine if this weakness represents a long-term buying opportunity, or if it could continue lower from here.

A growing asset base leads to strong top- and bottom-line growth

Here’s a summary of Bank of Nova Scotia’s fourth-quarter earnings results compared with what analysts had anticipated and its results in the same period a year ago.

Metric Q4 2015 Actual Q4 2015 Expected Q4 2014 Actual
Adjusted Earnings Per Share $1.45 $1.43 $1.32
Total Revenue (TEB) $6.20 billion $6.23 billion $5.85 billion

Source: Financial Times 

Bank of Nova Scotia’s adjusted earnings per share increased 9.8% and its total revenue on a taxable equivalent basis increased 6% compared with the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014. The company’s near double-digit percentage earnings-per-share growth can be attributed to its adjusted net income increasing 8.2% to $1.84 billion, helped by its total operating expenses decreasing 2.2% to $3.29 billion.

Its very strong revenue growth can be attributed to its net interest income increasing 6% to $5.19 billion, driven by growth in all three of its major segments, including 16% growth to $1.51 billion in its International Banking segment, 8.2% growth to $1.66 billion in its Canadian Banking segment, and 4.6% growth to $273 million in its Global Banking and Markets segment.

Here’s a quick breakdown of eight other notable statistics from the report compared with the year-ago period:

  1. Non-interest income increased 3% to $2.83 billion
  2. Total assets increased 6.3% to $856.5 billion
  3. Deposits increased 8.5% to $600.92 billion
  4. Loans increased 8.1% to $458.63 billion
  5. Common shareholders’ equity increased 9.2% to $49.09 billion
  6. Assets under administration increased 6.2% to $453.93 billion
  7. Assets under management increased 8.6% to $179.01 billion
  8. Book value per share increased 10.4% to $40.80

Bank of Nova Scotia also announced that it will be maintaining its quarterly dividend of $0.70 per share, and the next payment will come on January 27, 2016 to shareholders of record at the close of business on January 5, 2016.

Should you buy Bank of Nova Scotia on the dip?

It was a fantastic quarter overall for Bank of Nova Scotia, so I do not think the market has reacted correctly by sending its shares lower. With this being said, I think the drop represents nothing more than a long-term buying opportunity, especially because the stock now trades at even more attractive valuations and because it is one of the market’s top dividend plays.

First, Bank of Nova Scotia’s stock now trades at just 10.5 times fiscal 2015’s adjusted earnings per share of $5.67 and only 9.9 times fiscal 2016’s estimated earnings per share of $5.97, both of which are inexpensive compared with its five-year average price-to-earnings multiple of 11.9 and the industry average multiple of 13. It also trades at a mere 1.46 times its book value per share of $40.80, which is a major discount compared with its market-to-book value of 1.87 at the conclusion of fiscal 2014.

I think the company’s stock could consistently trade at a fair price-to-earnings multiple of 12, which would place its shares upwards of $71 by the conclusion of fiscal 2016, representing upside of more than 19% from today’s levels.

Second, Bank of Nova Scotia pays an annual dividend of $2.80 per share, giving its stock a bountiful 4.7% yield. The company has also raised its dividend for five consecutive years, and its strong financial performance could allow this streak to continue in 2016.

With all of the information provided above in mind, I think Foolish investors should strongly consider using the post-earnings weakness in Bank of Nova’s stock to begin scaling in to long-term positions.

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Fool contributor Joseph Solitro has no position in any stocks mentioned.