Should We Worry About Live Oak Bancshares, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:LOB) P/E Ratio?

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 Live Oak Bancshares, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:LOB) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Live Oak Bancshares has a price to earnings ratio of 23.82, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 4.2%.

See our latest analysis for Live Oak Bancshares

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 Live Oak Bancshares:

P/E of 23.82 = $19.01 ÷ $0.80 (Based on the year 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 Live Oak Bancshares 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. As you can see below, Live Oak Bancshares has a higher P/E than the average company (12.4) in the banks industry.

NasdaqGS:LOB Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 5th 2019
NasdaqGS:LOB Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 5th 2019

Live Oak Bancshares’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward.

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.

Live Oak Bancshares’s earnings per share fell by 72% in the last twelve months. But EPS is up 26% over the last 3 years. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 10% per year over the last five years. This might lead to muted expectations.

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. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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 Live Oak Bancshares’s Balance Sheet Tell Us?

With net cash of US$190m, Live Oak Bancshares has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 25% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Verdict On Live Oak Bancshares’s P/E Ratio

Live Oak Bancshares trades on a P/E ratio of 23.8, which is above its market average of 17.5. The recent drop in earnings per share would make some investors cautious, but the net cash position means the company has time to improve: and the high P/E suggests the market thinks it will.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. People often underestimate remarkable growth — so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: Live Oak Bancshares 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).

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.