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Is Independent Bank Corp.'s (NASDAQ:INDB) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

Simply Wall St

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use Independent Bank Corp.'s (NASDAQ:INDB) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. What is Independent Bank's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 15.90. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 6.3%.

See our latest analysis for Independent Bank

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 Independent Bank:

P/E of 15.90 = USD80.05 ÷ USD5.03 (Based on the year to December 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.

Does Independent Bank Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. As you can see below, Independent Bank has a higher P/E than the average company (12.8) in the banks industry.

NasdaqGS:INDB Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 18th 2020

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Independent Bank shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. 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.

Independent Bank increased earnings per share by an impressive 14% over the last twelve months. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 15% per year over the last five years. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

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.

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 Independent Bank's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Net debt totals just 3.4% of Independent Bank's market cap. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.

The Bottom Line On Independent Bank's P/E Ratio

Independent Bank's P/E is 15.9 which is below average (19.0) in the US market. The company does have a little debt, and EPS growth was good last year. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low. Since analysts are predicting growth will continue, one might expect to see a higher P/E so it may be worth looking closer.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

You might be able to find a better buy than Independent Bank. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.