Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Coastal Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:CCB) Still Undervalued?

Today, we’ll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We’ll show how you can use Coastal Financial Corporation’s (NASDAQ:CCB) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Based on the last twelve months, Coastal Financial’s P/E ratio is 16.02. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $16.02 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Coastal Financial

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Coastal Financial:

P/E of 16.02 = $15.99 ÷ $1.0 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. All else being equal, it’s better to pay a low price — but as Warren Buffett said, ‘It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.’

Does Coastal Financial Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (12.7) for companies in the banks industry is lower than Coastal Financial’s P/E.

NasdaqGS:CCB Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 30th 2019
NasdaqGS:CCB Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 30th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Coastal Financial shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

It’s nice to see that Coastal Financial grew EPS by a stonking 47% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 78%. With that performance, I would expect it to have an above average P/E ratio.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

Is Debt Impacting Coastal Financial’s P/E?

Coastal Financial has net cash of US$80m. This is fairly high at 42% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.

The Bottom Line On Coastal Financial’s P/E Ratio

Coastal Financial has a P/E of 16. That’s below the average in the US market, which is 17.9. The net cash position gives plenty of options to the business, and the recent improvement in EPS is good to see. The relatively low P/E ratio implies the market is pessimistic. Given analysts are expecting further growth, one I would have expected a higher P/E ratio. So this stock may well be worth further research.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. 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 Coastal Financial. 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).

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Thank you for reading.