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Is Southwest Georgia Financial Corporation’s (NYSEMKT:SGB) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

Scott Perkins

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how Southwest Georgia Financial Corporation’s (NYSEMKT:SGB) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Based on the last twelve months, Southwest Georgia Financial’s P/E ratio is 11.66. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 8.6%.

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How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Southwest Georgia Financial:

P/E of 11.66 = $21.45 ÷ $1.84 (Based on the year to December 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 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

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Southwest Georgia Financial increased earnings per share by an impressive 23% over the last twelve months. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 9.1% per year over the last five years. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.

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

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see Southwest Georgia Financial has a lower P/E than the average (13.7) in the banks industry classification.

AMEX:SGB PE PEG Gauge January 29th 19

This suggests that market participants think Southwest Georgia Financial will underperform other companies in its industry. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

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

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. 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.

Is Debt Impacting Southwest Georgia Financial’s P/E?

The extra options and safety that comes with Southwest Georgia Financial’s US$6.6m net cash position means that it deserves a higher P/E than it would if it had a lot of net debt.

The Bottom Line On Southwest Georgia Financial’s P/E Ratio

Southwest Georgia Financial’s P/E is 11.7 which is below average (16.7) 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 should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. We don’t have analyst forecasts, but you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E 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.