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Should We Worry About Meridian Bancorp, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:EBSB) P/E Ratio?

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Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll look at Meridian Bancorp, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:EBSB) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. What is Meridian Bancorp's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 16.02. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $16.02 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Meridian Bancorp

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Meridian Bancorp:

P/E of 16.02 = USD19.50 ÷ USD1.22 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each USD1 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.

Does Meridian Bancorp Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Meridian Bancorp has a higher P/E than the average (14.3) P/E for companies in the mortgage industry.

NasdaqGS:EBSB Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 14th 2020
NasdaqGS:EBSB Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 14th 2020

That means that the market expects Meridian Bancorp will outperform other companies in its industry. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

It's great to see that Meridian Bancorp grew EPS by 20% in the last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 26% per year over the last five years. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio.

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

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

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.

Is Debt Impacting Meridian Bancorp's P/E?

Net debt totals 21% of Meridian Bancorp's market cap. It would probably deserve a higher P/E ratio if it was net cash, since it would have more options for growth.

The Bottom Line On Meridian Bancorp's P/E Ratio

Meridian Bancorp's P/E is 16.0 which is below average (18.9) 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 have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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. So this free visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

But note: Meridian Bancorp 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).

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.

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. Thank you for reading.