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Is Renasant Corporation's (NASDAQ:RNST) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

Simply Wall St

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 Renasant Corporation's (NASDAQ:RNST) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. What is Renasant's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 11.24. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 8.9%.

See our latest analysis for Renasant

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 Renasant:

P/E of 11.24 = $33.11 ÷ $2.95 (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 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.

Does Renasant Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see Renasant has a lower P/E than the average (12.3) in the banks industry classification.

NasdaqGS:RNST Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 14th 2019

Renasant's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. 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.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Notably, Renasant grew EPS by a whopping 28% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 14% annually, over the last five years. I'd therefore be a little surprised if its P/E ratio was not relatively high.

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

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.

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

Renasant's Balance Sheet

The extra options and safety that comes with Renasant's US$40m net cash position means that it deserves a higher P/E than it would if it had a lot of net debt.

The Verdict On Renasant's P/E Ratio

Renasant's P/E is 11.2 which is below average (17.3) in the US market. Not only should the net cash position reduce risk, but the recent growth has been impressive. The relatively low P/E ratio implies the market is pessimistic.

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

But note: Renasant 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.