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Should You Be Tempted To Sell People's United Financial, Inc. (NASDAQ:PBCT) Because Of Its P/E Ratio?

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The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at People's United Financial, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:PBCT) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. People's United Financial has a P/E ratio of 13.32, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 7.5%.

Check out our latest analysis for People's United Financial

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for People's United Financial:

P/E of 13.32 = $17.2 ÷ $1.29 (Based on the year to March 2019.)

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 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

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. 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 great to see that People's United Financial grew EPS by 21% in the last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 11% per year over the last five years. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.

How Does People's United Financial's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (13) for companies in the banks industry is roughly the same as People's United Financial's P/E.

NasdaqGS:PBCT Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 8th 2019

That indicates that the market expects People's United Financial will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. So if People's United Financial actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Checking factors such as the tenure of the board and management could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

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

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on 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.

People's United Financial's Balance Sheet

Net debt is 48% of People's United Financial's market cap. While that's enough to warrant consideration, it doesn't really concern us.

The Verdict On People's United Financial's P/E Ratio

People's United Financial's P/E is 13.3 which is below average (18.2) in the US market. The EPS growth last year was strong, and debt levels are quite reasonable. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low. Since analysts are predicting growth will continue, one might expect to see a higher P/E so it may be worth looking closer.

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. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than People's United Financial. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.