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Does PennyMac Financial Services, Inc.'s (NYSE:PFSI) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how PennyMac Financial Services, Inc.'s (NYSE:PFSI) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Based on the last twelve months, PennyMac Financial Services's P/E ratio is 8.5. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 12%.

Check out our latest analysis for PennyMac Financial Services

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for PennyMac Financial Services:

P/E of 8.5 = $22.24 ÷ $2.62 (Based on the year to December 2018.)

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.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

PennyMac Financial Services shrunk earnings per share by 40% over the last year. But EPS is up 26% over the last 5 years.

How Does PennyMac Financial Services's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (14.6) for companies in the mortgage industry is higher than PennyMac Financial Services's P/E.

NYSE:PFSI Price Estimation Relative to Market, April 29th 2019

This suggests that market participants think PennyMac Financial Services will underperform other companies in its industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with PennyMac Financial Services, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

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

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in 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 PennyMac Financial Services's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Net debt totals a substantial 276% of PennyMac Financial Services's market cap. This is a relatively high level of debt, so the stock probably deserves a relatively low P/E ratio. Keep that in mind when comparing it to other companies.

The Verdict On PennyMac Financial Services's P/E Ratio

PennyMac Financial Services trades on a P/E ratio of 8.5, which is below the US market average of 18.2. When you consider that the company has significant debt, and didn't grow EPS last year, it isn't surprising that the market has muted expectations.

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

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than PennyMac Financial Services. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.