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

Simply Wall St

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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 NBT Bancorp Inc.'s (NASDAQ:NBTB) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Based on the last twelve months, NBT Bancorp's P/E ratio is 14.18. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 7.1%.

See our latest analysis for NBT Bancorp

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for NBT Bancorp:

P/E of 14.18 = $37.51 ÷ $2.65 (Based on the year to March 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings 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 is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

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. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

It's nice to see that NBT Bancorp grew EPS by a stonking 31% in the last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 9.9% per year over the last five years. So we'd generally expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.

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

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. As you can see below, NBT Bancorp has a higher P/E than the average company (12.9) in the banks industry.

NasdaqGS:NBTB Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 1st 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that NBT Bancorp shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn't guaranteed. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

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

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

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.

NBT Bancorp's Balance Sheet

Net debt is 33% of NBT Bancorp's market cap. You'd want to be aware of this fact, but it doesn't bother us.

The Bottom Line On NBT Bancorp's P/E Ratio

NBT Bancorp's P/E is 14.2 which is below average (18.1) in the US market. The company hasn't stretched its balance sheet, and earnings growth was good last year. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified.

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 the key to an excellent investment decision.

You might be able to find a better buy than NBT 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).

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.