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Do You Like First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) At This P/E Ratio?

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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at First Bancorp's (NASDAQ:FBNC) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Based on the last twelve months, First Bancorp's P/E ratio is 12.08. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying $12.08 for every $1 in prior year profit.

See our latest analysis for First Bancorp

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 Bancorp:

P/E of 12.08 = $38.66 ÷ $3.20 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. 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 First Bancorp's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (12.6) for companies in the banks industry is roughly the same as First Bancorp's P/E.

NasdaqGS:FBNC Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 4th 2019
NasdaqGS:FBNC Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 4th 2019

That indicates that the market expects First Bancorp will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. So if First Bancorp actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. I would further inform my view by checking insider buying and selling., among other things.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

It's great to see that First Bancorp grew EPS by 19% in the last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 23% per year over the last five years. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio.

Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. 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.

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.

Is Debt Impacting First Bancorp's P/E?

The extra options and safety that comes with First Bancorp's US$17m net cash position means that it deserves a higher P/E than it would if it had a lot of net debt.

The Verdict On First Bancorp's P/E Ratio

First Bancorp trades on a P/E ratio of 12.1, which is below the US market average of 18.1. The net cash position gives plenty of options to the business, and the recent improvement in EPS is good to see. The below average P/E ratio suggests that market participants don't believe the strong growth will continue.

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 visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.