Thanks to its fascinating business model that in many ways mirrors Berkshire Hathaway, Leucadia National (NYSE:JEF) piques the interest of many investors. This one chart will now raise their eyebrows even more.
The eye-popping number
With any investment in a company, the business -- or businesses in the case of Berkshire and Leucadia -- must always be considered. But it would be naïve to suggest the price doesn't also play a key role in the investment decision.
This is why Warren Buffett noted in his 2012 letter to shareholders, "a business with terrific economics can be a bad investment if the price paid is excessive."
So in doing a little research on Leucadia, knowing it owned and operated a number of compelling businesses -- ranging from the investment bank Jefferies to beef supplier National Beef and everything in between -- one of the first things I looked to was its price. And the result was a surprise.
Leucadia trades at a price-to-book multiple -- which is its current value on the open market versus the shareholders equity on its balance sheet -- of 0.79. Or said differently, Wall Street seems to think Leucadia is worth less than what it would be worth if it sold all its assets and paid off all its debts.
And as shown below, Berkshire Hathaway on the other hand, is trading above a 50% premium to its book value:
This is important because since 2000 Leucadia has watched its book value per share rise by 350%, whereas Berkshire has seen its grow by 280%.
While these are two very different businesses and the required caveat "past performance does not necessarily predict future results" is worth mentioning, the reality is, Leucadia is trading at such a steep discount that it is downright cheap.
The Foolish bottom line
In the third quarter Leucadia continued its trend of posting great results as Jefferies delivered record revenue, and it saw its profit jump from $9 million in the third quarter of last year to $134 million in the third quarter of this year.
While there were still some struggles with its National Beef subsidiary, it too saw improvements relative to the first half of 2014. In addition, Leucadia also recognized steady gains across the myriad of other operating businesses it owns.
Although more investigation needs to be done, and one number doesn't warrant an investment decision, a cheap valuation plus strong business results make Leucadia National one company to put on your short list of investments worth monitoring.
Patrick Morris owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway and Leucadia National. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Leucadia National. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.