Unfortunately for some shareholders, the M&T Bank (NYSE:MTB) share price has dived 18% in the last thirty days. Indeed the recent decline has arguably caused some bitterness for shareholders who have held through the 37% drop over twelve months.
Assuming nothing else has changed, a lower share price makes a stock more attractive to potential buyers. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors' expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.
Does M&T Bank Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 7.47 that sentiment around M&T Bank isn't particularly high. If you look at the image below, you can see M&T Bank has a lower P/E than the average (8.6) in the banks industry classification.
M&T Bank's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, 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. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.
M&T Bank's earnings per share grew by 7.9% in the last twelve months. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 13%.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. 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).
M&T Bank's Balance Sheet
Since M&T Bank holds net cash of US$1.3b, it can spend on growth, justifying a higher P/E ratio than otherwise.
The Verdict On M&T Bank's P/E Ratio
M&T Bank trades on a P/E ratio of 7.5, which is below the US market average of 12.5. Earnings improved over the last year. And the net cash position gives the company many options. So it's strange that the low P/E indicates low expectations. Given M&T Bank's P/E ratio has declined from 9.1 to 7.5 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is more worried about the business today, than it was back then. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might be a bad sign, but for deep value investors this stock might justify some research.
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 be able to find a better stock than M&T Bank. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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