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Does Pinnacle Financial Partners, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:PNFP) 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). We’ll show how you can use Pinnacle Financial Partners, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:PNFP) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Pinnacle Financial Partners has a P/E ratio of 12.69, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay \$12.69 for every \$1 in trailing yearly profits.

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Pinnacle Financial Partners:

P/E of 12.69 = \$59.16 ÷ \$4.66 (Based on the year to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each \$1 the company has earned over the last year. That isn’t a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business’s prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

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. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

It’s nice to see that Pinnacle Financial Partners grew EPS by a stonking 71% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 16%. I’d therefore be a little surprised if its P/E ratio was not relatively high.

How Does Pinnacle Financial Partners’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that Pinnacle Financial Partners has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the banks industry average (13.6).

That indicates that the market expects Pinnacle Financial Partners will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. Checking factors such as the tenure of the board and management could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

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

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future), by taking on debt (or spending its remaining cash).

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).

Pinnacle Financial Partners’s Balance Sheet

Pinnacle Financial Partners has net debt worth 29% of its market capitalization. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you should absolutely keep in mind it has significant borrowings.

The Verdict On Pinnacle Financial Partners’s P/E Ratio

Pinnacle Financial Partners’s P/E is 12.7 which is below average (17.5) in the US market. The EPS growth last year was strong, and debt levels are quite reasonable. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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 visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

You might be able to find a better buy than Pinnacle Financial Partners. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.