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Is BCB Bancorp, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:BCBP) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

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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 apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to BCB Bancorp, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:BCBP), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Based on the last twelve months, BCB Bancorp's P/E ratio is 12.04. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 8.3%.

Check out our latest analysis for BCB Bancorp

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 BCB Bancorp:

P/E of 12.04 = $12.54 ÷ $1.04 (Based on the year 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 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

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. 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. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

BCB Bancorp increased earnings per share by a whopping 26% last year. And earnings per share have improved by 17% annually, over the last three years. With that performance, I would expect it to have an above average P/E ratio.

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

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that BCB Bancorp has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the banks industry average (12.7).

NasdaqGM:BCBP Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 29th 2019

Its P/E ratio suggests that BCB Bancorp shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. So if BCB Bancorp actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. I inform my view byby checking management tenure and remuneration, among other things.

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

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

How Does BCB Bancorp's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

BCB Bancorp's net debt is 50% of its 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 Bottom Line On BCB Bancorp's P/E Ratio

BCB Bancorp's P/E is 12 which is below average (17.3) in the US market. The company may have significant debt, but EPS growth was good last year. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low.

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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

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 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.