Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. To keep it practical, we'll show how Landmark Bancorp, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:LARK) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Landmark Bancorp has a P/E ratio of 9.75, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 10%.
How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Landmark Bancorp:
P/E of 9.75 = $22.9 ÷ $2.35 (Based on the year to June 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 is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.
Does Landmark Bancorp Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (12.2) for companies in the banks industry is higher than Landmark Bancorp's P/E.
Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Landmark Bancorp shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
If earnings fall then in the future the 'E' will be lower. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others -- and that may encourage shareholders to sell.
Landmark Bancorp's 114% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. 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).
Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.
So What Does Landmark Bancorp's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Landmark Bancorp's net debt equates to 44% of its market capitalization. While it's worth keeping this in mind, it isn't a worry.
The Verdict On Landmark Bancorp's P/E Ratio
Landmark Bancorp trades on a P/E ratio of 9.8, which is below the US market average of 17.3. 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.
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.' Although we don't have analyst forecasts, you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
But note: Landmark 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.