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Don't Sell First Interstate BancSystem, Inc. (NASDAQ:FIBK) Before You Read This

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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to First Interstate BancSystem, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:FIBK), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. First Interstate BancSystem has a price to earnings ratio of 13.59, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $13.59 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

View our latest analysis for First Interstate BancSystem

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 First Interstate BancSystem:

P/E of 13.59 = $38.16 ÷ $2.81 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 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. All else being equal, it's better to pay a low price -- but as Warren Buffett said, 'It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.'

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. 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.

First Interstate BancSystem increased earnings per share by a whopping 27% last year. And earnings per share have improved by 7.0% annually, over the last five years. I'd therefore be a little surprised if its P/E ratio was not relatively high.

Does First Interstate BancSystem Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that First Interstate BancSystem has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the banks industry average (12.7).

NasdaqGS:FIBK Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 30th 2019

First Interstate BancSystem's P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. Further research into factors such asmanagement tenure, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.

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

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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.

First Interstate BancSystem's Balance Sheet

First Interstate BancSystem has net cash of US$126m. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.

The Bottom Line On First Interstate BancSystem's P/E Ratio

First Interstate BancSystem has a P/E of 13.6. That's below the average in the US market, which is 17.3. The net cash position gives plenty of options to the business, and the recent improvement in EPS is good to see. One might conclude that the market is a bit pessimistic, given the low P/E ratio. Given analysts are expecting further growth, one I would have expected a higher P/E ratio. So this stock may well be worth further research.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

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.