Does First Horizon National Corporation’s (NYSE:FHN) 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 look at First Horizon National Corporation’s (NYSE:FHN) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. What is First Horizon National’s P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 8.95. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 11%.

See our latest analysis for First Horizon National

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for First Horizon National:

P/E of 8.95 = $15.21 ÷ $1.7 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing 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

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company’s P/E multiple. If earnings are growing quickly, then the ‘E’ in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

First Horizon National’s 130% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. The cherry on top is that the five year growth rate was an impressive 70% per year. So I’d be surprised if the P/E ratio was not above average.

Does First Horizon National Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see First Horizon National has a lower P/E than the average (13.1) in the banks industry classification.

NYSE:FHN Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 6th 2019
NYSE:FHN Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 6th 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that First Horizon National shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

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

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

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).

Is Debt Impacting First Horizon National’s P/E?

With net cash of US$1.3b, First Horizon National has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 27% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Bottom Line On First Horizon National’s P/E Ratio

First Horizon National trades on a P/E ratio of 9, which is below the US market average of 18.4. The net cash position gives plenty of options to the business, and the recent improvement in EPS is good to see. One might conclude that the market is a bit pessimistic, given the low P/E ratio.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than First Horizon National. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.