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Do You Like HV Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:HVBC) At This P/E Ratio?

Simply Wall St

HV Bancorp (NASDAQ:HVBC) shares have given back plenty of recent gains in the last month, dropping . Indeed, the recent drop has reduced the annual gain to a relatively sedate 5.2% 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). So some would prefer to hold off buying when there is a lot of optimism towards a stock. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock 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.

See our latest analysis for HV Bancorp

How Does HV Bancorp's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

HV Bancorp's P/E of 34.60 indicates some degree of optimism towards the stock. The image below shows that HV Bancorp has a higher P/E than the average (13.9) P/E for companies in the mortgage industry.

NasdaqCM:HVBC Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 10th 2020

That means that the market expects HV Bancorp will outperform other companies in its industry. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

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. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. 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.

Most would be impressed by HV Bancorp earnings growth of 14% in the last year.

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

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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 spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

HV Bancorp's Balance Sheet

HV Bancorp has net cash of US$2.8m. 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 HV Bancorp's P/E Ratio

HV Bancorp trades on a P/E ratio of 34.6, which is above its market average of 18.4. Its strong balance sheet gives the company plenty of resources for extra growth, and it has already proven it can grow. Therefore it seems reasonable that the market would have relatively high expectations of the company What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become less optimistic about HV Bancorp over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 34.6 back then to 34.6 today. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might be a bad sign, but for a contrarian, it may signal opportunity.

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. 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 HV 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.