Here’s How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand Community West Bancshares (NASDAQ:CWBC)

Today, we’ll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. To keep it practical, we’ll show how Community West Bancshares’s (NASDAQ:CWBC) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Community West Bancshares has a price to earnings ratio of 11.96, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $11.96 for every $1 in prior year profit.

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

See our latest analysis for Community West 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 Community West Bancshares:

P/E of 11.96 = $10.17 ÷ $0.85 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing earnings. That isn’t necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

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. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. 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.

Notably, Community West Bancshares grew EPS by a whopping 29% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 47% annually, over the last three years. With that performance, I would expect it to have an above average P/E ratio. But earnings per share are down 5.1% per year over the last five years.

Does Community West 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 Community West Bancshares has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the banks industry, which is 12.8.

NasdaqGM:CWBC Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 21st 2019
NasdaqGM:CWBC Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 21st 2019

Its P/E ratio suggests that Community West Bancshares shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. So if Community West Bancshares actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Checking factors such as the tenure of the board and management could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

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. 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.

Community West Bancshares’s Balance Sheet

Net debt totals just 8.7% of Community West Bancshares’s market cap. So it doesn’t have as many options as it would with net cash, but its debt would not have much of an impact on its P/E ratio.

The Verdict On Community West Bancshares’s P/E Ratio

Community West Bancshares has a P/E of 12. That’s below the average in the US market, which is 17.7. The EPS growth last year was strong, and debt levels are quite reasonable. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low.

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. We don’t have analyst forecasts, but you could get a better understanding of its growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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.

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.