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Why Western New England Bancorp, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:WNEB) High P/E Ratio Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing

Simply Wall St

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Western New England Bancorp, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:WNEB) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Western New England Bancorp has a P/E ratio of 17.32, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $17.32 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Western New England 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 Western New England Bancorp:

P/E of 17.32 = $9.84 ÷ $0.57 (Based on the year to December 2018.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That isn’t a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business’s prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Notably, Western New England Bancorp grew EPS by a whopping 38% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 7.5%. I’d therefore be a little surprised if its P/E ratio was not relatively high.

How Does Western New England Bancorp’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. As you can see below, Western New England Bancorp has a higher P/E than the average company (15.3) in the mortgage industry.

NasdaqGS:WNEB Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 28th 2019

Western New England Bancorp’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

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

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. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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).

Is Debt Impacting Western New England Bancorp’s P/E?

Western New England Bancorp has net debt worth 88% of its market capitalization. This is a reasonably significant level of debt — all else being equal you’d expect a much lower P/E than if it had net cash.

The Bottom Line On Western New England Bancorp’s P/E Ratio

Western New England Bancorp’s P/E is 17.3 which is about average (17.7) in the US market. It does have enough debt to add risk, although earnings growth was strong in the last year. However, the P/E ratio implies that most doubt the strong growth will continue.

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 Western New England 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.