To the annoyance of some shareholders, Codorus Valley Bancorp (NASDAQ:CVLY) shares are down a considerable 32% in the last month. Indeed the recent decline has arguably caused some bitterness for shareholders who have held through the 31% drop over twelve months.
Assuming nothing else has changed, a lower share price makes a stock more attractive to potential buyers. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors' expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.
How Does Codorus Valley Bancorp's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
Codorus Valley Bancorp's P/E of 7.94 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (9.4) for companies in the banks industry is higher than Codorus Valley Bancorp's P/E.
This suggests that market participants think Codorus Valley Bancorp will underperform other companies in its industry. 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.
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. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.
Codorus Valley Bancorp saw earnings per share decrease by 4.6% last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 3.2% per year over the last five years.
Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
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. 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 Codorus Valley Bancorp's P/E?
With net cash of US$43m, Codorus Valley Bancorp has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 30% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.
The Verdict On Codorus Valley Bancorp's P/E Ratio
Codorus Valley Bancorp trades on a P/E ratio of 7.9, which is below the US market average of 12.7. Falling earnings per share are likely to be keeping potential buyers away, the healthy balance sheet means the company retains potential for future growth. If that occurs, the current low P/E could prove to be temporary. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become more pessimistic about Codorus Valley Bancorp over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 11.7 back then to 7.9 today. For those who prefer invest in growth, this stock apparently offers limited promise, but the deep value investors may find the pessimism around this stock enticing.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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. We don't have analyst forecasts, but shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Codorus Valley Bancorp. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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