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Should You Be Tempted To Sell Independent Bank Corporation (NASDAQ:IBCP) Because Of Its P/E Ratio?

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Independent Bank Corporation’s (NASDAQ:IBCP) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Independent Bank has a price to earnings ratio of 16.25, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 6.2%.

View our latest analysis for Independent Bank

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 Independent Bank:

P/E of 16.25 = $22.59 ÷ $1.39 (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 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

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. 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.

It’s great to see that Independent Bank grew EPS by 20% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 13% annually, over the last three years. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio. But earnings per share are down 40% per year over the last five years.

How Does Independent Bank’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Independent Bank has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the banks industry average (15.6).

NasdaqGS:IBCP PE PEG Gauge November 23rd 18

That indicates that the market expects Independent Bank will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. Checking factors such as the tenure of the board and management could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

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 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.

Independent Bank’s Balance Sheet

Independent Bank’s net debt is 11% 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 Verdict On Independent Bank’s P/E Ratio

Independent Bank has a P/E of 16.3. That’s below the average in the US market, which is 17.9. The company does have a little debt, and 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. Since analysts are predicting growth will continue, one might expect to see a higher P/E so it may be worth looking closer.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold they key to an excellent investment decision.

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.