National Bank of Canada’s Q4 Earnings Are Out: What Should You Do Now?

National Bank of Canada (TSX:NA) released fourth-quarter earnings on December 2, and its stock has reacted by rising. Could it continue higher from here?

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National Bank of Canada (TSX:NA), one of Canada’s largest financial institutions, announced fourth-quarter earnings results before the market opened on December 2, and its stock has responded by moving higher. Let’s break down the quarterly results to determine if we should consider initiating positions in the stock today, or if we should wait for a better entry point in the weeks ahead.

A quarter of top- and bottom-line growth

Here’s a summary of National Bank’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 $1.16 $1.16 $1.14
Total Revenues (TEB) $1.47 billion $1.48 billion $1.44 billion

Source: Financial Times

National Bank’s adjusted earnings per share increased 1.8% and its total revenue on a taxable equivalent basis increased 2.3% compared with the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014. The company’s slight earnings-per-share growth can be attributed to its adjusted net income increasing 2.5% to $417 million, driven by 7.5% growth to $187 million in its Personal and Commercial segment and 7.3% growth to $162 million in its Financial Markets segment.

Its slight revenue growth can be attributed to its net interest income increasing 7.7% to $756 million, driven by growth in the same two segments, including 13.3% growth to $239 million in its Financial Markets segment and 6.4% growth to $464 million in its Personal and Commercial segment.

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

  1. Non-interest income decreased 2.8% to $717 million
  2. Total assets increased 5.2% to $216.09 billion
  3. Total deposits increased 7.5% to $128.83 billion
  4. Total loans and acceptances increased 8.5% to $115.24 billion
  5. Total equity increased 12.3% to $9.53 billion
  6. Total assets under management and administration increased 3.7% to $358.14 billion
  7. Book value per share increased 9.7% to $28.26
  8. Adjusted efficiency ratio improved 60 basis points to 59%

National Bank also announced a 3.8% increase to its quarterly dividend to $0.54 per share, and the next payment will come on February 1, 2016 to shareholders of record at the close of business on December 21, 2015.

Should you buy National Bank today?

It was a solid quarter overall for National Bank, and the dividend increase amplified the positive sentiment, so I think its stock has responded correctly by moving higher. I also think the stock will continue higher from here and that it represents a very attractive long-term investment opportunity today, because it still trades at inexpensive valuations and because it has a high dividend and is dividend-growth play.

First, National Bank’s stock still trades at just 9.4 times fiscal 2015’s adjusted earnings per share of $4.70 and only 9.3 times fiscal 2016’s estimated earnings per share of $4.78, both of which are inexpensive compared with its five-year average price-to-earnings multiple of 10.2 and the industry average multiple of 13.

It also trades at a mere 1.57 times its book value per share of $28.26, which is a very inexpensive compared with its market-to-book value of 2.05 at the end of fiscal 2014 and its five-year average market-to-book value of 1.88.

Second, National Bank now pays an annual dividend of $2.16 per share, which gives its stock a bountiful 4.9% yield, and this is more than double the industry average yield of 2.3%. It is also important to note that the increase it just announced puts the company on pace for 2016 to mark the sixth consecutive year in which it has increased its annual dividend payment, making it one of the top dividend-growth plays in the banking industry.

With all of the information provided above in mind, I think National Bank of Canada represents one of the best long-term investment opportunities in the market today. All Foolish investor should strongly consider making it a core holding.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

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

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