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Do You Like Marlin Business Services Corp. (NASDAQ:MRLN) At This P/E Ratio?

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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how Marlin Business Services Corp.'s (NASDAQ:MRLN) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Marlin Business Services has a P/E ratio of 11.95, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 8.4%.

Check out our latest analysis for Marlin Business Services

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Marlin Business Services:

P/E of 11.95 = $23.08 ÷ $1.93 (Based on the year to March 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 necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Marlin Business Services saw earnings per share decrease by 19% last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 7.7% per year over the last five years.

How Does Marlin Business Services's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see Marlin Business Services has a lower P/E than the average (18.1) in the diversified financial industry classification.

NasdaqGS:MRLN Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 8th 2019

Marlin Business Services's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in 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 Marlin Business Services's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

The extra options and safety that comes with Marlin Business Services's US$23m net cash position means that it deserves a higher P/E than it would if it had a lot of net debt.

The Bottom Line On Marlin Business Services's P/E Ratio

Marlin Business Services's P/E is 12 which is below average (18.2) in the US market. The recent drop in earnings per share would make investors cautious, the healthy balance sheet means the company retains potential for future growth. If that occurs, the current low P/E could prove to be temporary.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. 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 Marlin Business Services. 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).

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.