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Is KeyCorp’s (NYSE:KEY) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

Audra Newberry

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how KeyCorp’s (NYSE:KEY) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. KeyCorp has a price to earnings ratio of 11.28, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 8.9%.

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How Do I Calculate KeyCorp’s Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for KeyCorp:

P/E of 11.28 = $16.24 ÷ $1.44 (Based on the year to September 2018.)

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. All else being equal, it’s better to pay a low price — but as Warren Buffett said, ‘It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.’

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. 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. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

It’s great to see that KeyCorp grew EPS by 24% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 5.2% annually, over the last five years. So one might expect an above average P/E ratio.

How Does KeyCorp’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that KeyCorp has a lower P/E than the average (14.6) P/E for companies in the banks industry.

NYSE:KEY PE PEG Gauge January 16th 19

This suggests that market participants think KeyCorp will underperform other companies in its 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.

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. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

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.

Is Debt Impacting KeyCorp’s P/E?

Net debt totals 88% of KeyCorp’s market cap. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you should absolutely keep in mind it has significant borrowings.

The Verdict On KeyCorp’s P/E Ratio

KeyCorp trades on a P/E ratio of 11.3, which is below the US market average of 16.8. The company may have significant debt, but EPS growth was good last year. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 they key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than KeyCorp. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.