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Should We Worry About Community Bank System, Inc.’s (NYSE:CBU) P/E Ratio?

Jason Fuller

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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 Community Bank System, Inc.’s (NYSE:CBU) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Community Bank System has a P/E ratio of 18.98, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 5.3%.

Check out our latest analysis for Community Bank System

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 Community Bank System:

P/E of 18.98 = $62.27 ÷ $3.28 (Based on the year to December 2018.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each $1 of company earnings. 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. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Community Bank System increased earnings per share by 6.7% last year. And earnings per share have improved by 12% annually, over the last five years.

How Does Community Bank System’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. As you can see below, Community Bank System has a higher P/E than the average company (13.3) in the banks industry.

NYSE:CBU PE PEG Gauge February 12th 19

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Community Bank System shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t guarantee future growth. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

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. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future), by taking on debt (or spending its remaining cash).

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 Community Bank System’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Community Bank System’s net debt is 6.3% of its market cap. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Bottom Line On Community Bank System’s P/E Ratio

Community Bank System trades on a P/E ratio of 19, which is above the US market average of 16.8. With modest debt relative to its size, and modest earnings growth, the market is likely expecting sustained long-term growth, if not a near-term improvement.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold they key to an excellent investment decision.

But note: Community Bank System may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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.