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Here’s How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB)

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 U.S. Bancorp’s (NYSE:USB) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. U.S. Bancorp has a price to earnings ratio of 12.45, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 8.0%.

View our latest analysis for U.S. Bancorp

How Do You Calculate U.S. Bancorp’s P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for U.S. Bancorp:

P/E of 12.45 = $51.67 ÷ $4.15 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each $1 of company earnings. 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

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

U.S. Bancorp increased earnings per share by an impressive 18% over the last twelve months. And earnings per share have improved by 5.6% annually, over the last five years. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.

How Does U.S. Bancorp’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see U.S. Bancorp has a lower P/E than the average (13.6) in the banks industry classification.

NYSE:USB Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 5th 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that U.S. Bancorp shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. 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

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. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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.

U.S. Bancorp’s Balance Sheet

U.S. Bancorp has net debt worth 45% of its market capitalization. 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 U.S. Bancorp’s P/E Ratio

U.S. Bancorp has a P/E of 12.4. That’s below the average in the US market, which is 17.7. The company does have a little debt, and 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.

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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: U.S. 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 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.