Does Preferred Bank’s (NASDAQ:PFBC) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how Preferred Bank’s (NASDAQ:PFBC) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Preferred Bank has a P/E ratio of 11.98, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $11.98 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Preferred Bank

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Preferred Bank:

P/E of 11.98 = USD61.82 ÷ USD5.16 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each USD1 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.

How Does Preferred Bank’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. As you can see below Preferred Bank has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the banks industry, which is 12.6.

NasdaqGS:PFBC Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 19th 2020
NasdaqGS:PFBC Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 19th 2020

That indicates that the market expects Preferred Bank will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. So if Preferred Bank actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Further research into factors such as insider buying and selling, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.

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. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

It’s great to see that Preferred Bank grew EPS by 11% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 23% annually, over the last five years. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio.

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

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. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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).

So What Does Preferred Bank’s Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Preferred Bank has net cash of US$436m. This is fairly high at 47% 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 Verdict On Preferred Bank’s P/E Ratio

Preferred Bank’s P/E is 12.0 which is below average (18.3) in the US market. Not only should the net cash position reduce risk, but the recent growth has been impressive. The below average P/E ratio suggests that market participants don’t believe the strong growth will continue.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. 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 Preferred Bank. 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 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.

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. Thank you for reading.