Is The First of Long Island Corporation’s (NASDAQ:FLIC) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

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The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how The First of Long Island Corporation’s (NASDAQ:FLIC) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Based on the last twelve months, First of Long Island’s P/E ratio is 14.14. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 7.1%.

See our latest analysis for First of Long Island

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 of Long Island:

P/E of 14.14 = $23.17 ÷ $1.64 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. 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

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

First of Long Island increased earnings per share by an impressive 13% over the last twelve months. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 9.1% per year over the last five years. So one might expect an above average P/E ratio.

How Does First of Long Island’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 First of Long Island has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the banks industry average (13.5).

NasdaqCM:FLIC Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 21st 2019
NasdaqCM:FLIC Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 21st 2019

First of Long Island’s P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. Checking factors such as the tenure of the board and management could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

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

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

Is Debt Impacting First of Long Island’s P/E?

First of Long Island has net debt worth a very significant 119% of its market capitalization. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you must keep in mind that these debt levels would usually warrant a relatively low P/E.

The Verdict On First of Long Island’s P/E Ratio

First of Long Island’s P/E is 14.1 which is below average (17.4) in the US market. 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 have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

You might be able to find a better buy than First of Long Island. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.