Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Axos Financial (NYSE:AX) share price has dived 48% in the last thirty days. Indeed the recent decline has arguably caused some bitterness for shareholders who have held through the 49% 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. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors’ expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E ratio means that investors have a high expectation about future growth, while a low P/E ratio means they have low expectations about future growth.
Does Axos Financial Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
Axos Financial’s P/E of 5.54 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. If you look at the image below, you can see Axos Financial has a lower P/E than the average (9.9) in the mortgage industry classification.
Axos Financial’s P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. If earnings are growing quickly, then the ‘E’ in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.
Axos Financial had pretty flat EPS growth in the last year. But EPS is up 18% over the last 5 years.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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).
How Does Axos Financial’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Axos Financial has net cash of US$250m. This is fairly high at 26% 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 Axos Financial’s P/E Ratio
Axos Financial’s P/E is 5.5 which is below average (11.5) in the US market. Recent earnings growth wasn’t bad. Also positive, the relatively strong balance sheet will allow for investment in growth. In contrast, the P/E indicates shareholders doubt that will happen! Because analysts are predicting more growth in the future, one might have expected to see a higher P/E ratio. You can take a closer look at the fundamentals, here. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become more pessimistic about Axos Financial over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 10.7 back then to 5.5 today. For those who prefer invest in growth, this stock apparently offers limited promise, but the deep value investors may find the pessimism around this stock enticing.
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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.
But note: Axos Financial may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).
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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