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Does Eagle Bancorp Montana Inc’s (NASDAQ:EBMT) PE Ratio Warrant A Sell?

Peter Morris

I am writing today to help inform people who are new to the stock market and want to start learning about core concepts of fundamental analysis on practical examples from today’s market.

Eagle Bancorp Montana Inc (NASDAQ:EBMT) trades with a trailing P/E of 22, which is higher than the industry average of 17.9. While this might not seem positive, it is important to understand the assumptions behind the P/E ratio before you make any investment decisions. In this article, I will deconstruct the P/E ratio and highlight what you need to be careful of when using the P/E ratio.

View our latest analysis for Eagle Bancorp Montana

Demystifying the P/E ratio

NasdaqGM:EBMT PE PEG Gauge August 30th 18

A common ratio used for relative valuation is the P/E ratio. By comparing a stock’s price per share to its earnings per share, we are able to see how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

P/E Calculation for EBMT

Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share

EBMT Price-Earnings Ratio = $18.9 ÷ $0.860 = 22x

The P/E ratio isn’t a metric you view in isolation and only becomes useful when you compare it against other similar companies. We want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar characteristics as EBMT, such as size and country of operation. A quick method of creating a peer group is to use companies in the same industry, which is what I will do. Since EBMT’s P/E of 22 is higher than its industry peers (17.9), it means that investors are paying more for each dollar of EBMT’s earnings. This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 25 Banks companies in US including Great Basin Financial, Mercantil Servicios Financieros C.A and CIB Marine Bancshares. You could also say that the market is suggesting that EBMT is a stronger business than the average comparable company.

Assumptions to be aware of

Before you jump to conclusions it is important to realise that there are assumptions in this analysis. Firstly, that our peer group contains companies that are similar to EBMT. If this isn’t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to other factors. Take, for example, the scenario where Eagle Bancorp Montana Inc is growing profits more quickly than the average comparable company. In that case, the market may be correct to value it on a higher P/E ratio. We should also be aware that the stocks we are comparing to EBMT may not be fairly valued. Just because it is trading on a higher P/E ratio than its peers does not mean it must be overvalued. After all, the peer group could be undervalued.

What this means for you:

If your personal research into the stock confirms what the P/E ratio is telling you, it might be a good time to rebalance your portfolio and reduce your holdings in EBMT. But keep in mind that the usefulness of relative valuation depends on whether you are comfortable with making the assumptions I mentioned above. Remember that basing your investment decision off one metric alone is certainly not sufficient. There are many things I have not taken into account in this article and the PE ratio is very one-dimensional. If you have not done so already, I urge you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for EBMT’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for EBMT’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has EBMT been consistently performing well irrespective of the ups and downs in the market? Go into more detail in the past performance analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of EBMT’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.