To the annoyance of some shareholders, Santander Bank Polska (WSE:SPL) shares are down a considerable 41% in the last month. Indeed the recent decline has arguably caused some bitterness for shareholders who have held through the 55% drop over twelve months.
Assuming nothing else has changed, a lower share price makes a stock more attractive to potential buyers. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E implies that investors have high expectations of what a company can achieve compared to a company with a low P/E ratio.
Does Santander Bank Polska Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
Santander Bank Polska’s P/E is 8.36. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (7.8) for companies in the banks industry is roughly the same as Santander Bank Polska’s P/E.
Santander Bank Polska’s P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. Checking factors such as director buying and selling. could help you form your own view on if that will happen.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
When earnings fall, the ‘E’ decreases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others — and that may encourage shareholders to sell.
Santander Bank Polska saw earnings per share decrease by 12% last year. But EPS is up 1.0% over the last 5 years. And over the longer term (3 years) earnings per share have decreased 1.4% annually. This could justify a low P/E.
Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet
It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).
Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).
Santander Bank Polska’s Balance Sheet
Net debt totals 75% of Santander Bank Polska’s market cap. This is a reasonably significant level of debt — all else being equal you’d expect a much lower P/E than if it had net cash.
The Bottom Line On Santander Bank Polska’s P/E Ratio
Santander Bank Polska’s P/E is 8.4 which is about average (8.8) in the PL market. With relatively high debt, and no earnings per share growth over twelve months, the P/E suggests that many have an expectation that company will find some growth. Given Santander Bank Polska’s P/E ratio has declined from 14.2 to 8.4 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is more worried about the business today, than it was back then. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might be a bad sign, but for deep value investors this stock might justify some research.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, ‘In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine. So this free visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.
You might be able to find a better buy than Santander Bank Polska. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
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