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Is BankFinancial Corporation's (NASDAQ:BFIN) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

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Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to BankFinancial Corporation's (NASDAQ:BFIN), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, BankFinancial has a P/E ratio of 13.24. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 7.6%.

View our latest analysis for BankFinancial

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for BankFinancial:

P/E of 13.24 = $15.06 ÷ $1.14 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That isn't a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business's prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

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. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

In the last year, BankFinancial grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 93% gain was both fast and well deserved. The cherry on top is that the five year growth rate was an impressive 45% per year. So I'd be surprised if the P/E ratio was not above average.

How Does BankFinancial's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. The image below shows that BankFinancial has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the banks industry average (13).

NasdaqGS:BFIN Price Estimation Relative to Market, April 30th 2019

That indicates that the market expects BankFinancial will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. I inform my view byby checking management tenure and remuneration, among other things.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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 BankFinancial's P/E?

With net cash of US$62m, BankFinancial has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 26% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Verdict On BankFinancial's P/E Ratio

BankFinancial trades on a P/E ratio of 13.2, which is below the US market average of 18.3. Not only should the net cash position reduce risk, but the recent growth has been impressive. The below average P/E ratio suggests that market participants don't believe the strong growth will continue.

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 visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

But note: BankFinancial may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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 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.