mBank (WSE:MBK) shareholders are no doubt pleased to see that the share price has had a great month, posting a 33% gain, recovering from prior weakness. But shareholders may not all be feeling jubilant, since the share price is still down 43% in the last year.
All else being equal, a sharp share price increase should make a stock less attractive to potential investors. 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. So some would prefer to hold off buying when there is a lot of optimism towards a stock. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.
How Does mBank’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 11.02 that there is some investor optimism about mBank. The image below shows that mBank has a higher P/E than the average (9.6) P/E for companies in the banks industry.
mBank’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t guarantee future growth. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
If earnings fall then in the future the ‘E’ will be lower. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.
mBank’s earnings per share fell by 12% in the last twelve months. And EPS is down 7.8% a year, over the last 5 years. This could justify a pessimistic P/E.
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 spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.
So What Does mBank’s Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Net debt totals a substantial 133% of mBank’s market cap. This level of debt justifies a relatively low P/E, so remain cognizant of the debt, if you’re comparing it to other stocks.
The Verdict On mBank’s P/E Ratio
mBank has a P/E of 11.0. That’s around the same as the average in the PL market, which is 11.9. With meaningful debt, and no earnings per share growth last year, even an average P/E indicates that the market a significant improvement from the business. What we know for sure is that investors have become more excited about mBank recently, since they have pushed its P/E ratio from 8.3 to 11.0 over the last month. If you like to buy stocks that have recently impressed the market, then this one might be a candidate; but if you prefer to invest when there is ‘blood in the streets’, then you may feel the opportunity has passed.
Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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.
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.
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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.