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Don't Sell Central Pacific Financial Corp. (NYSE:CPF) Before You Read This

Simply Wall St

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at Central Pacific Financial Corp.'s (NYSE:CPF) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Central Pacific Financial has a P/E ratio of 13.87, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 7.2%.

See our latest analysis for Central Pacific Financial

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Central Pacific Financial:

P/E of 13.87 = $29.05 ÷ $2.09 (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 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 Does Central Pacific Financial's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that Central Pacific Financial has a higher P/E than the average (12.7) P/E for companies in the banks industry.

NYSE:CPF Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 19th 2019

That means that the market expects Central Pacific Financial will outperform other companies in its industry. 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. 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. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Notably, Central Pacific Financial grew EPS by a whopping 40% in the last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 17% per year over the last five years. I'd therefore be a little surprised if its P/E ratio was not relatively high.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

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. 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).

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

So What Does Central Pacific Financial's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Net debt is 27% of Central Pacific Financial's market cap. You'd want to be aware of this fact, but it doesn't bother us.

The Verdict On Central Pacific Financial's P/E Ratio

Central Pacific Financial has a P/E of 13.9. That's below the average in the US market, which is 18. The EPS growth last year was strong, and debt levels are quite reasonable. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified.

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. So this free visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

But note: Central Pacific Financial may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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.