Does Colony Bankcorp, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:CBAN) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll show how you can use Colony Bankcorp, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:CBAN) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Based on the last twelve months, Colony Bankcorp’s P/E ratio is 11.09. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 9.0%.

Check out our latest analysis for Colony Bankcorp

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 Colony Bankcorp:

P/E of 11.09 = $15.66 ÷ $1.41 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

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.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

It’s nice to see that Colony Bankcorp grew EPS by a stonking 58% in the last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 21% per year over the last five years. I’d therefore be a little surprised if its P/E ratio was not relatively high.

How Does Colony Bankcorp’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Colony Bankcorp has a lower P/E than the average (13.3) P/E for companies in the banks industry.

NASDAQGM:CBAN PE PEG Gauge February 12th 19
NASDAQGM:CBAN PE PEG Gauge February 12th 19

Colony Bankcorp’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. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. 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 Colony Bankcorp’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Colony Bankcorp’s net debt is 6.1% of its market cap. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.

The Verdict On Colony Bankcorp’s P/E Ratio

Colony Bankcorp trades on a P/E ratio of 11.1, which is below the US market average of 16.8. The company hasn’t stretched its balance sheet, and earnings growth was good last year. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. Although we don’t have analyst forecasts, you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But note: Colony Bankcorp 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).

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.