The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Bar Harbor Bankshares’s (NYSEMKT:BHB) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Bar Harbor Bankshares has a P/E ratio of 12.54, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $12.54 for every $1 in prior year profit.
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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 Bar Harbor Bankshares:
P/E of 12.54 = $26.21 ÷ $2.09 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)
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. 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
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. If earnings are growing quickly, then the ‘E’ in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.
Bar Harbor Bankshares’s earnings per share grew by -8.9% in the last twelve months. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 6.1%.
How Does Bar Harbor Bankshares’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (12.8) for companies in the banks industry is roughly the same as Bar Harbor Bankshares’s P/E.
That indicates that the market expects Bar Harbor Bankshares 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
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. 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).
While growth expenditure doesn’t always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.
How Does Bar Harbor Bankshares’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Bar Harbor Bankshares’s net debt is considerable, at 172% of its market cap. This level of debt justifies a relatively low P/E, so remain cognizant of the debt, if you’re comparing it to other stocks.
The Verdict On Bar Harbor Bankshares’s P/E Ratio
Bar Harbor Bankshares has a P/E of 12.5. That’s below the average in the US market, which is 17.9. It’s good to see EPS growth in the last 12 months, but the debt on the balance sheet might be muting expectations.
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. Although we don’t have analyst forecasts, you might want to assess this data-rich visualization 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.