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Do You Know What Valley National Bancorp's (NASDAQ:VLY) P/E Ratio Means?

Simply Wall St

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 Valley National Bancorp's (NASDAQ:VLY) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. What is Valley National Bancorp's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 12.51. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying $12.51 for every $1 in prior year profit.

See our latest analysis for Valley National Bancorp

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Valley National Bancorp:

P/E of 12.51 = USD11.00 ÷ USD0.88 (Based on the year to December 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each USD1 the company has earned over the last year. That isn't necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

Does Valley National Bancorp 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 Valley National Bancorp has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the banks industry, which is 12.6.

NasdaqGS:VLY Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 21st 2020

Its P/E ratio suggests that Valley National Bancorp shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. Further research into factors such as insider buying and selling, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

It's great to see that Valley National Bancorp grew EPS by 17% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 9.3% annually, over the last five years. So one might expect an above average P/E ratio.

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

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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).

Valley National Bancorp's Balance Sheet

Net debt totals 64% of Valley National Bancorp'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 Bottom Line On Valley National Bancorp's P/E Ratio

Valley National Bancorp trades on a P/E ratio of 12.5, which is below the US market average of 18.5. The company has a meaningful amount of debt on the balance sheet, but that should not eclipse the solid earnings growth. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue.

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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Valley National 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.