Why Signature Bank’s (NASDAQ:SBNY) High P/E Ratio Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing

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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how Signature Bank’s (NASDAQ:SBNY) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Signature Bank has a price to earnings ratio of 13.71, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $13.71 for every $1 in prior year profit.

Check out our latest analysis for Signature Bank

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 Signature Bank:

P/E of 13.71 = $127.31 ÷ $9.29 (Based on the year to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings 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. All else being equal, it’s better to pay a low price — but as Warren Buffett said, ‘It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.’

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Notably, Signature Bank grew EPS by a whopping 30% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 7.7% annually, over the last five years. With that performance, I would expect it to have an above average P/E ratio.

How Does Signature Bank’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 Signature Bank has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the banks industry average (13.2).

NASDAQGS:SBNY PE PEG Gauge February 2nd 19
NASDAQGS:SBNY PE PEG Gauge February 2nd 19

That indicates that the market expects Signature Bank will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. Further research into factors such asmanagement tenure, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.

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 Signature Bank’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Net debt totals 83% of Signature Bank’s market cap. This is enough debt that you’d have to make some adjustments before using the P/E ratio to compare it to a company with net cash.

The Verdict On Signature Bank’s P/E Ratio

Signature Bank trades on a P/E ratio of 13.7, which is below the US market average of 16.7. The company has a meaningful amount of debt on the balance sheet, but that should not eclipse the solid earnings growth. 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 it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. 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 Signature Bank. 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).

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.