Emclaire Financial (NASDAQ:EMCF) shares have retraced a considerable in the last month, but the stock is still up slightly on where it started the quarter. Indeed, the recent drop has reduced the annual gain to a relatively sedate 6.6% over the last twelve months.
All else being equal, a sharp share price increase should make a stock less attractive to potential investors. In the long term, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, but in the short term prices bounce around in response to short term factors (which are not always obvious). The implication here is that deep value investors might steer clear when expectations of a company are too high. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors' expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.
How Does Emclaire Financial's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
Emclaire Financial's P/E of 11.40 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. The image below shows that Emclaire Financial has a lower P/E than the average (12.6) P/E for companies in the banks industry.
Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Emclaire Financial shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.
Emclaire Financial's 66% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. Even better, EPS is up 16% per year over three years. So we'd absolutely expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.
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. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.
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).
Is Debt Impacting Emclaire Financial's P/E?
Emclaire Financial's net debt is 13% of its market cap. This could bring some additional risk, and reduce the number of investment options for management; worth remembering if you compare its P/E to businesses without debt.
The Bottom Line On Emclaire Financial's P/E Ratio
Emclaire Financial trades on a P/E ratio of 11.4, which is below the US market average of 18.2. 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. Given Emclaire Financial's P/E ratio has declined from 11.4 to 11.4 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 don't like to trade against momentum, that could be a warning sign, but a contrarian investor might want to take a closer look.
Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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. We don't have analyst forecasts, but shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
But note: Emclaire 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).
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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