# Does Carolina Trust BancShares Inc’s (NASDAQ:CART) PE Ratio Signal A Selling Opportunity?

Carolina Trust BancShares Inc (NASDAQ:CART) is trading with a trailing P/E of 39, which is higher than the industry average of 17.8. Although some investors may see this as unappealing, it is important to understand the assumptions behind the P/E ratio before making judgments. In this article, I will break down what the P/E ratio is, how to interpret it and what other factors to keep in mind.

### Breaking down the P/E ratio

The P/E ratio is one of many ratios used in relative valuation. It compares a stock’s price per share to the stock’s earnings per share. A more intuitive way of understanding the P/E ratio is to think of it as how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

Formula

Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share

P/E Calculation for CART

Price per share = \$8.22

Earnings per share = \$0.211

∴ Price-Earnings Ratio = \$8.22 ÷ \$0.211 = 39x

The P/E ratio itself doesn’t tell you a lot; however, it becomes very insightful when you compare it with other similar companies. Ideally, we want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar characteristics as CART, such as size and country of operation. One way of gathering a peer group is to use firms in the same industry, which is what I’ll do. Since similar companies should technically have similar P/E ratios, we can very quickly come to some conclusions about the stock if the ratios differ.

Since CART’s P/E of 39 is higher than its industry peers (17.8), it means that investors are paying more for each dollar of CART’s earnings. This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 25 Banks companies in US including Great Basin Financial, Mercantil Servicios Financieros C.A and CIB Marine Bancshares. You could also say that the market is suggesting that CART has a stronger business than the average comparable company.

### Assumptions to watch out for

However, it is important to note that our examination of the stock is based on certain assumptions. The first is that our “similar companies” are actually similar to CART. If not, the difference in P/E might be a result of other factors. Take, for example, the scenario where Carolina Trust BancShares Inc is growing profits more quickly than the average comparable company. In that case, the market may be correct to value it on a higher P/E ratio. We should also be aware that the stocks we are comparing to CART may not be fairly valued. So while we can reasonably surmise that it is optimistically valued relative to a peer group, it might be fairly valued, if the peer group is undervalued.

### What this means for you:

If your personal research into the stock confirms what the P/E ratio is telling you, it might be a good time to rebalance your portfolio and reduce your holdings in CART. But keep in mind that the usefulness of relative valuation depends on whether you are comfortable with making the assumptions I mentioned above. Remember that basing your investment decision off one metric alone is certainly not sufficient. There are many things I have not taken into account in this article and the PE ratio is very one-dimensional. If you have not done so already, I urge you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for CART’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for CART’s outlook.
2. Past Track Record: Has CART been consistently performing well irrespective of the ups and downs in the market? Go into more detail in the past performance analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of CART’s historicals for more clarity.
3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.