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Why Fauquier Bankshares, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:FBSS) High P/E Ratio Isn't Necessarily A Bad Thing

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 apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Fauquier Bankshares, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:FBSS), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Based on the last twelve months, Fauquier Bankshares's P/E ratio is 12.83. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying $12.83 for every $1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for Fauquier Bankshares

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Fauquier Bankshares:

P/E of 12.83 = $21 ÷ $1.64 (Based on the trailing twelve months 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

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. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

In the last year, Fauquier Bankshares grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 86% gain was both fast and well deserved.

How Does Fauquier Bankshares's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

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 Fauquier Bankshares has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the banks industry, which is 12.7.

NasdaqCM:FBSS Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 18th 2019

That indicates that the market expects Fauquier Bankshares 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. Further research into factors such asmanagement tenure, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.

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

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

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

How Does Fauquier Bankshares's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

The extra options and safety that comes with Fauquier Bankshares's US$4.3m 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 Fauquier Bankshares's P/E Ratio

Fauquier Bankshares trades on a P/E ratio of 12.8, which is below the US market average of 17.6. The net cash position gives plenty of options to the business, and the recent improvement in EPS is good to see. The below average P/E ratio suggests that market participants don't believe the strong growth will continue.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, 'In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.' 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.

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.