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Is MSB Financial Corp (NASDAQ:MSBF) Attractive At This PE Ratio?

MSB Financial Corp (NASDAQ:MSBF) trades with a trailing P/E of 31.5, which is higher than the industry average of 19.9. Though this might seem to be a negative, you might change your mind after I explain the assumptions behind the P/E ratio. Today, I will break down what the P/E ratio is, how to interpret it and what to watch out for.

Demystifying the P/E ratio

The P/E ratio is one of many ratios used in relative valuation. It compares a stock’s price per share to the stock’s earnings per share. A more intuitive way of understanding the P/E ratio is to think of it as how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

P/E Calculation for MSBF

Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share

MSBF Price-Earnings Ratio = \$21.25 ÷ \$0.676 = 31.5x

On its own, the P/E ratio doesn’t tell you much; however, it becomes extremely useful when you compare it with other similar companies. We want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar characteristics as MSBF, such as size and country of operation. A common peer group is companies that exist in the same industry, which is what I use. MSBF’s P/E of 31.5 is higher than its industry peers (19.9), which implies that each dollar of MSBF’s earnings is being overvalued by investors. This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 25 Mortgage companies in US including Solutions Group, Security National Financial and PennyMac Financial Services. You could think of it like this: the market is pricing MSBF as if it is a stronger company than the average of its industry group.

A few caveats

However, you should be aware that this analysis makes certain assumptions. The first is that our “similar companies” are actually similar to MSBF. If not, the difference in P/E might be a result of other factors. For example, if MSB Financial Corp is growing faster than its peers, then it would deserve a higher P/E ratio. Of course, it is possible that the stocks we are comparing with MSBF are not fairly valued. So while we can reasonably surmise that it is optimistically valued relative to a peer group, it might be fairly valued, if the peer group is undervalued.

What this means for you:

You may have already conducted fundamental analysis on the stock as a shareholder, so its current overvaluation could signal a potential selling opportunity to reduce your exposure to MSBF. Now that you understand the ins and outs of the PE metric, you should know to bear in mind its limitations before you make an investment decision. Remember that basing your investment decision off one metric alone is certainly not sufficient. There are many things I have not taken into account in this article and the PE ratio is very one-dimensional. If you have not done so already, I highly recommend you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for MSBF’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for MSBF’s outlook.
2. Past Track Record: Has MSBF been consistently performing well irrespective of the ups and downs in the market? Go into more detail in the past performance analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of MSBF’s historicals for more clarity.
3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

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.