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# Here’s How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand HomeStreet Inc (NASDAQ:HMST)

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll show how you can use HomeStreet Inc’s (NASDAQ:HMST) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. HomeStreet has a P/E ratio of 11.98, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 8.3%.

### How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for HomeStreet:

P/E of 11.98 = \$26.55 ÷ \$2.22 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

### Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each \$1 the company has earned over the last year. That isn’t a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business’s prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

### How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. 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. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

Notably, HomeStreet grew EPS by a whopping 61% in the last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 7.3% per year over the last five years. With that performance, I would expect it to have an above average P/E ratio.

### How Does HomeStreet’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

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 (17.6) for companies in the mortgage industry is higher than HomeStreet’s P/E.

This suggests that market participants think HomeStreet will underperform other companies in its 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.

### A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. 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.

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.

### How Does HomeStreet’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Net debt totals a substantial 129% of HomeStreet’s market cap. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you must keep in mind that these debt levels would usually warrant a relatively low P/E.

### The Bottom Line On HomeStreet’s P/E Ratio

HomeStreet’s P/E is 12 which is below average (17.9) in the US market. The company may have significant debt, but 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.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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.’ So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold they key to an excellent investment decision.

But note: HomeStreet 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).

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.