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Do You Like Bank of the James Financial Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:BOTJ) At This P/E Ratio?

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Bank of the James Financial Group, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:BOTJ), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Bank of the James Financial Group has a P/E ratio of 11.76. That means that at current prices, buyers pay \$11.76 for every \$1 in trailing yearly profits.

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 Bank of the James Financial Group:

P/E of 11.76 = \$14.75 ÷ \$1.25 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each \$1 of company earnings. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

Does Bank of the James Financial Group Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see Bank of the James Financial Group has a lower P/E than the average (12.9) in the banks industry classification.

Bank of the James Financial Group’s P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company’s P/E multiple. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Bank of the James Financial Group increased earnings per share by a whopping 45% last year. And earnings per share have improved by 6.9% annually, over the last five years. With that performance, I would expect it to have an above average P/E ratio.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in 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.

So What Does Bank of the James Financial Group’s Balance Sheet Tell Us?

With net cash of US\$30m, Bank of the James Financial Group has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 46% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Bottom Line On Bank of the James Financial Group’s P/E Ratio

Bank of the James Financial Group trades on a P/E ratio of 11.8, which is below the US market average of 18.1. 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.

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.’ We don’t have analyst forecasts, but you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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.