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Should You Be Tempted To Sell Glacier Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:GBCI) Because Of Its P/E Ratio?

Chris Amalia

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 Glacier Bancorp, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GBCI) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Based on the last twelve months, Glacier Bancorp’s P/E ratio is 19.71. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $19.71 for every $1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for Glacier Bancorp

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Glacier Bancorp:

P/E of 19.71 = $42.87 ÷ $2.18 (Based on the year to December 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 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 unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Glacier Bancorp increased earnings per share by a whopping 45% last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 5.5% per year over the last five years. With that performance, I would expect it to have an above average P/E ratio.

How Does Glacier Bancorp’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 (13.7) for companies in the banks industry is lower than Glacier Bancorp’s P/E.

NASDAQGS:GBCI PE PEG Gauge January 28th 19

That means that the market expects Glacier Bancorp will outperform other companies in its industry. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or 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. 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).

Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).

Glacier Bancorp’s Balance Sheet

Glacier Bancorp’s net debt is 22% of its market cap. That’s enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you’re comparing it to companies without debt.

The Bottom Line On Glacier Bancorp’s P/E Ratio

Glacier Bancorp has a P/E of 19.7. That’s higher than the average in the US market, which is 16.7. The company is not overly constrained by its modest debt levels, and it is growing earnings per share. So it is not surprising the market is probably extrapolating recent growth well into the future, reflected in the relatively high P/E ratio.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

You might be able to find a better buy than Glacier Bancorp. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.