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Is Amerant Bancorp Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AMTB) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at Amerant Bancorp Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AMTB) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Amerant Bancorp has a price to earnings ratio of 14.16, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 7.1%.

See our latest analysis for Amerant Bancorp

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Amerant Bancorp:

P/E of 14.16 = $17.27 ÷ $1.22 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 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. 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.'

Does Amerant Bancorp Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (12.3) for companies in the banks industry is lower than Amerant Bancorp's P/E.

NasdaqGS:AMTB Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 14th 2019

Amerant Bancorp's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

Most would be impressed by Amerant Bancorp earnings growth of 13% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 28%. So one might expect an above average P/E ratio.

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.

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 Amerant Bancorp's P/E?

Amerant Bancorp has net debt worth a very significant 164% 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 Bottom Line On Amerant Bancorp's P/E Ratio

Amerant Bancorp trades on a P/E ratio of 14.2, which is below the US market average of 17.3. The company has a meaningful amount of debt on the balance sheet, but that should not eclipse the solid earnings growth. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue.

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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

You might be able to find a better buy than Amerant Bancorp. 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.