Is First Financial Northwest, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FFNW) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

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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 look at First Financial Northwest, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FFNW) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. First Financial Northwest has a P/E ratio of 11.1, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 9.0%.

Check out our latest analysis for First Financial Northwest

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 First Financial Northwest:

P/E of 11.1 = $16.05 ÷ $1.45 (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 isn’t a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business’s prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. 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. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

Notably, First Financial Northwest grew EPS by a whopping 75% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 5.6% annually, over the last five years. With that performance, I would expect it to have an above average P/E ratio.

How Does First Financial Northwest’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (13.4) for companies in the banks industry is higher than First Financial Northwest’s P/E.

NASDAQGS:FFNW PE PEG Gauge February 19th 19
NASDAQGS:FFNW PE PEG Gauge February 19th 19

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that First Financial Northwest shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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.

First Financial Northwest’s Balance Sheet

Net debt totals 76% of First Financial Northwest’s market cap. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you should absolutely keep in mind it has significant borrowings.

The Bottom Line On First Financial Northwest’s P/E Ratio

First Financial Northwest trades on a P/E ratio of 11.1, which is below the US market average of 17.2. While the EPS growth last year was strong, the significant debt levels reduce the number of options available to management. 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. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, ‘In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.’ So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

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. On rare occasion, data errors may occur. Thank you for reading.