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Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Home Federal Bancorp of Louisiana (NASDAQ:HFBL) share price has dived in the last thirty days. Looking back further, the stock is up 8.0% in the last year.
Assuming no other changes, a sharply higher share price makes a stock less 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 deep value investors might steer clear when expectations of a company are too high. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E implies that investors have high expectations of what a company can achieve compared to a company with a low P/E ratio.
Does Home Federal Bancorp of Louisiana Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 14.06 that there is some investor optimism about Home Federal Bancorp of Louisiana. The image below shows that Home Federal Bancorp of Louisiana has a higher P/E than the average (12.8) P/E for companies in the mortgage industry.
Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Home Federal Bancorp of Louisiana shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.
Home Federal Bancorp of Louisiana shrunk earnings per share by 5.9% last year. But EPS is up 9.9% over the last 5 years.
Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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.
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 Home Federal Bancorp of Louisiana's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Home Federal Bancorp of Louisiana has net cash of US$12m. This is fairly high at 22% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.
The Verdict On Home Federal Bancorp of Louisiana's P/E Ratio
Home Federal Bancorp of Louisiana trades on a P/E ratio of 14.1, which is below the US market average of 16.5. The recent drop in earnings per share would almost certainly temper expectations, but the net cash position means the company has time to improve: if so, the low P/E could be an opportunity. Given Home Federal Bancorp of Louisiana's P/E ratio has declined from 14.1 to 14.1 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is less confident about the business today, than it was back then. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might be a bad sign, but for a contrarian, it may signal opportunity.
When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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. 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 be able to find a better stock than Home Federal Bancorp of Louisiana. 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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