Is the Bearish Sentiment on First Guaranty Bancshares (FGBI) Justified?

With an average analyst rating of hold, First Guaranty Bancshares is clearly not a favorite. But some of the best stock picks are contrarian in nature. With most analysts more focused on growth than on value, a mediocre analyst rating does not necessarily mean a stock is a bad investment. So what do we know about FGBI's valuation?

Let's start our value analysis with the price to book (P/B) ratio. This is perhaps the most basic measure of a company's valuation, which is its market value divided by its book value. Book value refers to the sum of all of the company's tangible assets minus its liabilities -- you can also think of it as the company's equity value.

Traditionally, value investors would look for companies with a ratio of less than 1 (meaning that the market value was smaller than the company's book value), but such opportunities are very rare these days. So we tend to look for company's whose valuations are less than their sector and market average. The P/B ratio for First Guaranty Bancshares is 0.72, compared to its sector average of 1.57 and the S&P500's average P/B of 2.95.

The most common metric for valuing a company is its Price to Earnings (P/E) ratio. It's simply today's stock price of 13.1 divided by either its trailing or forward earnings, which for First Guaranty Bancshares are $2.1 and $1.4 respectively. Based on these values, the company's trailing P/E ratio is 6.2 and its forward P/E ratio is 9.4. By way of comparison, the average P/E ratio of the Finance sector is 14.34 and the average P/E ratio of the S&P 500 is 15.97.

One last metric to check out is First Guaranty Bancshares's free cash flow of $34.22 Million. This represents the total sum of all the company's inflows and outflows of capital, including the costs of servicing its debt. It's the final bottom line of the company, which it can use to re-invest or to pay its investors a dividend. With such healthy cash flows, investors can expect First Guaranty Bancshares to keep paying its 4.9% dividend.

Shares of First Guaranty Bancshares appear to be fairly valued or undervalued at today's prices -- despite the negative outlook from analysts. Sometimes stocks are cheap for a reason, so remember that just because a stock is fairly valued does not necessarily mean it will go up. So be sure to do your own due diligence if you are interested in taking a long position in FGBI.

The above analysis is intended for educational purposes only and was performed on the basis of publicly available data. It is not to be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Any buy, sell, or other recommendations mentioned in the article are direct quotations of consensus recommendations from the analysts covering the stock, and do not represent the opinions of Market Inference or its writers. Past performance, accounting data, and inferences about market position and corporate valuation are not reliable indicators of future price movements. Market Inference does not provide financial advice. Investors should conduct their own review and analysis of any company of interest before making an investment decision.