U.S. Markets open in 6 hrs 49 mins

Is HV Bancorp, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:HVBC) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

Simply Wall St

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at HV Bancorp, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:HVBC) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Based on the last twelve months, HV Bancorp's P/E ratio is 42. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 2.4%.

Check out our latest analysis for HV Bancorp

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for HV Bancorp:

P/E of 42 = $14.38 ÷ $0.34 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing earnings. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

Does HV Bancorp Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (14.5) for companies in the mortgage industry is lower than HV Bancorp's P/E.

NasdaqCM:HVBC Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 19th 2019

HV Bancorp's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

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. 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. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

HV Bancorp's earnings per share fell by 3.3% in the last twelve months.

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

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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).

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).

So What Does HV Bancorp's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

With net cash of US$4.3m, HV Bancorp has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 14% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Bottom Line On HV Bancorp's P/E Ratio

HV Bancorp has a P/E of 42. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 17.9. Falling earnings per share is probably keeping traditional value investors away, but the healthy balance sheet means the company retains potential for future growth. If fails to eventuate, the current high P/E could prove to be temporary, as the share price falls.

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.' We don't have analyst forecasts, but shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But note: HV 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.