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Here's How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand Select Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:SLCT)

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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 apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Select Bancorp, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:SLCT), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Based on the last twelve months, Select Bancorp's P/E ratio is 12.67. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 7.9%.

View our latest analysis for Select 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 Select Bancorp:

P/E of 12.67 = $11.23 ÷ $0.89 (Based on the year to March 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. 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 Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

In the last year, Select Bancorp grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 269% gain was both fast and well deserved. The sweetener is that the annual five year growth rate of 20% is also impressive. With that kind of growth rate we would generally expect a high P/E ratio.

Does Select Bancorp 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. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (12.7) for companies in the banks industry is roughly the same as Select Bancorp's P/E.

NasdaqGM:SLCT Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 18th 2019

That indicates that the market expects Select Bancorp will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. Checking factors such as the tenure of the board and management could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

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.

Is Debt Impacting Select Bancorp's P/E?

Since Select Bancorp holds net cash of US$6.9m, it can spend on growth, justifying a higher P/E ratio than otherwise.

The Verdict On Select Bancorp's P/E Ratio

Select Bancorp's P/E is 12.7 which is below average (17.6) in the US market. Not only should the net cash position reduce risk, but the recent growth has been impressive. 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.

But note: Select Bancorp 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.