Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Emclaire Financial (NASDAQ:EMCF) share price has dived in the last thirty days. Even longer term holders have taken a real hit with the stock declining 29% in the last year.
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). A high P/E ratio means that investors have a high expectation about future growth, while a low P/E ratio means they have low expectations about future growth.
How Does Emclaire Financial's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 7.67 that sentiment around Emclaire Financial isn't particularly high. The image below shows that Emclaire Financial has a lower P/E than the average (9.7) P/E for companies in the banks industry.
Emclaire Financial's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
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. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.
Emclaire Financial's earnings made like a rocket, taking off 66% last year. Even better, EPS is up 16% per year over three years. So you might say it really deserves to have an above-average 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. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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).
How Does Emclaire Financial's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Emclaire Financial has net debt worth 20% of its market capitalization. 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 Verdict On Emclaire Financial's P/E Ratio
Emclaire Financial's P/E is 7.7 which is below average (13.3) in the US market. The company hasn't stretched its balance sheet, and earnings growth was good last year. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become more pessimistic about Emclaire Financial over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 7.7 back then to 7.7 today. For those who prefer invest in growth, this stock apparently offers limited promise, but the deep value investors may find the pessimism around this stock enticing.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. Although we don't have analyst forecasts you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Emclaire Financial. 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 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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