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Is ESSA Bancorp, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:ESSA) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

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 ESSA Bancorp, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:ESSA) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, ESSA Bancorp has a P/E ratio of 14.12. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 7.1%.

Check out our latest analysis for ESSA Bancorp

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for ESSA Bancorp:

P/E of 14.12 = $15.24 ÷ $1.08 (Based on the year to March 2019.)

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 Does ESSA 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 ESSA Bancorp has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the mortgage industry, which is 14.5.

NasdaqGS:ESSA Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 23rd 2019

Its P/E ratio suggests that ESSA Bancorp shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. So if ESSA Bancorp actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Checking factors such as director buying and selling. could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

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. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

ESSA Bancorp's earnings made like a rocket, taking off 163% last year. Having said that, the average EPS growth over the last three years wasn't so good, coming in at 8.3%.

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

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. 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.

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).

So What Does ESSA Bancorp's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

ESSA Bancorp has net debt worth a very significant 177% of its market capitalization. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you must keep in mind that these debt levels would usually warrant a relatively low P/E.

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

ESSA Bancorp's P/E is 14.1 which is below average (17.8) in the US market. While the EPS growth last year was strong, the significant debt levels reduce the number of options available to management. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

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.