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Is Riverview Financial Corporation’s (NASDAQ:RIVE) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Riverview Financial Corporation’s (NASDAQ:RIVE) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Riverview Financial has a P/E ratio of 33.45, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 3.0%.

See our latest analysis for Riverview Financial

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Riverview Financial:

P/E of 33.45 = $12.76 ÷ $0.38 (Based on the year to September 2018.)

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.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

When earnings fall, the ‘E’ decreases, over time. That means unless the share price falls, the P/E will increase in a few years. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others — and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

Riverview Financial increased earnings per share by a whopping 140% last year. In contrast, EPS has decreased by 34%, annually, over 5 years.

How Does Riverview Financial’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (15.6) for companies in the banks industry is lower than Riverview Financial’s P/E.

NasdaqGM:RIVE PE PEG Gauge November 27th 18

Riverview Financial’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t guarantee future growth. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

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

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future), by taking on debt (or spending its remaining cash).

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.

Riverview Financial’s Balance Sheet

Riverview Financial has net cash of US$44m. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.

The Verdict On Riverview Financial’s P/E Ratio

Riverview Financial trades on a P/E ratio of 33.5, which is above the US market average of 17.9. Its strong balance sheet gives the company plenty of resources for extra growth, and it has already proven it can grow. Therefore it seems reasonable that the market would have relatively high expectations of the company

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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.’ Although we don’t have analyst forecasts, you could get a better understanding of its growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But note: Riverview Financial 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.