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Does Hingham Institution for Savings's (NASDAQ:HIFS) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

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The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how Hingham Institution for Savings's (NASDAQ:HIFS) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Based on the last twelve months, Hingham Institution for Savings's P/E ratio is 11.98. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 8.3%.

View our latest analysis for Hingham Institution for Savings

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Hingham Institution for Savings:

P/E of 11.98 = $180 ÷ $15.02 (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. That isn't necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

Does Hingham Institution for Savings Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that Hingham Institution for Savings has a lower P/E than the average (14.1) P/E for companies in the mortgage industry.

NasdaqGM:HIFS Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 3rd 2019
NasdaqGM:HIFS Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 3rd 2019

Hingham Institution for Savings's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. 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. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

Hingham Institution for Savings saw earnings per share improve by -6.6% last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 9.7%.

Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

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 Hingham Institution for Savings's P/E?

Hingham Institution for Savings has net debt worth a very significant 182% of its market capitalization. This level of debt justifies a relatively low P/E, so remain cognizant of the debt, if you're comparing it to other stocks.

The Verdict On Hingham Institution for Savings's P/E Ratio

Hingham Institution for Savings has a P/E of 12. That's below the average in the US market, which is 17.3. The meaningful debt load is probably contributing to low expectations, even though it has improved earnings recently.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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.' Although we don't have analyst forecasts, shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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.