Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Horizon Bancorp (NASDAQ:HBNC) share price has dived 30% in the last thirty days. Even longer term holders have taken a real hit with the stock declining 29% in the last year.
All else being equal, a share price drop should make a stock more 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. The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E implies that investors have high expectations of what a company can achieve compared to a company with a low P/E ratio.
How Does Horizon Bancorp’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 7.88 that sentiment around Horizon Bancorp isn’t particularly high. If you look at the image below, you can see Horizon Bancorp has a lower P/E than the average (10.4) in the banks industry classification.
Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Horizon Bancorp shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. 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.
It’s great to see that Horizon Bancorp grew EPS by 10% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 12% annually, over the last five years. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
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. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).
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.
Is Debt Impacting Horizon Bancorp’s P/E?
Horizon Bancorp’s net debt is 93% of its market cap. This is a reasonably significant level of debt — all else being equal you’d expect a much lower P/E than if it had net cash.
The Bottom Line On Horizon Bancorp’s P/E Ratio
Horizon Bancorp’s P/E is 7.9 which is below average (14.7) in the US market. The company may have significant debt, but EPS growth was good last year. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become more pessimistic about Horizon Bancorp over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 11.3 back then to 7.9 today. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might be a bad sign, but for deep value investors this stock might justify some research.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 be able to find a better stock than Horizon Bancorp. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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