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Should We Worry About AmeriServ Financial Inc’s (NASDAQ:ASRV) P/E Ratio?

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll show how you can use AmeriServ Financial Inc’s (NASDAQ:ASRV) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Based on the last twelve months, AmeriServ Financial’s P/E ratio is 16. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $16 for every $1 in prior year profit.

Check out our latest analysis for AmeriServ 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 AmeriServ Financial:

P/E of 16 = $4.29 ÷ $0.27 (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

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. 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. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

AmeriServ Financial’s earnings per share fell by 7.9% in the last twelve months. But it has grown its earnings per share by 1.7% per year over the last three years.

How Does AmeriServ Financial’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. As you can see below AmeriServ Financial has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the banks industry, which is 15.8.

NasdaqGM:ASRV PE PEG Gauge December 3rd 18

Its P/E ratio suggests that AmeriServ Financial shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. 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

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. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

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).

How Does AmeriServ Financial’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Net debt totals a substantial 122% of AmeriServ Financial’s market cap. This level of debt justifies a relatively low P/E, so remain cognizant of the debt, if you’re comparing it to other stocks.

The Bottom Line On AmeriServ Financial’s P/E Ratio

AmeriServ Financial trades on a P/E ratio of 16, which is below the US market average of 18. The P/E reflects market pessimism that probably arises from the lack of recent EPS growth, paired with significant leverage.

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.

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.