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Is Cullen/Frost Bankers (CFR) a Good Pick for Value Investors?

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Value investing is easily one of the most popular ways to find great stocks in any market environment. After all, who wouldn’t want to find stocks that are either flying under the radar and are compelling buys, or offer up tantalizing discounts when compared to fair value? 

One way to find these companies is by looking at several key metrics and financial ratios, many of which are crucial in the value stock selection process. Let’s put Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc. (CFR - Free Report) stock into this equation and find out if it is a good choice for value-oriented investors right now, or if investors subscribing to this methodology should look elsewhere for top picks:

PE Ratio

A key metric that value investors always look at is the Price to Earnings Ratio, or PE for short. This shows us how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of earnings in a given stock, and is easily one of the most popular financial ratios in the world. The best use of the PE ratio is to compare the stock’s current PE ratio with: a) where this ratio has been in the past; b) how it compares to the average for the industry/sector; and c) how it compares to the market as a whole.

On this front, Cullen/Frost Bankers has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 13.17, as you can see in the chart below:

This level actually compares pretty favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 18.92. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, Cullen/Frost Bankers’s current PE level puts it below its midpoint of16.37 over the past five years. Moreover, the current level stands well below the highs for the stock, suggesting that it can be a solid entry point.

Further, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks Finance sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 14.95. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.

We should also point out that Cullen/Frost Bankers has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of just 13.37, so it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for Cullen/Frost Bankers stock in the near term too.

PEG Ratio

While earnings are certainly important, it is essential to know how much you are paying for the growth of earnings as well. One can easily do that with the PEG ratio (ratio of the P/E to the expected future earnings growth rate).The PEG ratio gives a more complete picture of the valuation of a stock than the P/E ratio.

Cullen/Frost Bankers’s PEG ratio stands at just 1.44, compared with the Zacks Banks-Southwest industry average of 1.52. This suggests a decent undervalued trading relative to its earnings growth potential right now. 

Broad Value Outlook

In aggregate, Cullen/Frost Bankers currently has a Value Score of B, putting it into the top 40% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Cullen/Frost Bankers a solid choice for value investors, and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too. 

For example, the PEG ratio for Cullen/Frost Bankers is just 1.41, a level that is far lower than the industry average of 1.49. The PEG ratio is a modified PE ratio that takes into account the stock’s earnings growth rate. Clearly, CFR is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles. 

What About the Stock Overall?

Though Cullen/Frost Bankers might be a good choice for value investors, there are plenty of other factors to consider before investing in this name. In particular, it is worth noting that the company has a Growth Score of C and a Momentum Score of B. This gives CFR a Zacks VGM score — or its overarching fundamental grade — of B. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)

Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been dismal at best. The current year has seen one estimate go higher in the past sixty days compared to four lower, while the next year estimate has seen none up and five down in the same time period. 

This has had a negative impact on the consensus estimate though as the current quarter consensus estimate has dropped by 0.4% in the past two months, while the full year estimate has decreased by 2.4%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:

Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc. Price and Consensus

Apart from this somewhat soft trend, the stock has just a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) which is why we are looking for in-line performance from the company in the near term. 

Bottom Line

Cullen/Frost Bankers is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. Further, a strong industry rank (among Top 35% of more than 250 industries) instills our confidence. However, over the past two years, the Zacks Banks-Southwest industry has clearly underperformed the broader market, as you can see below:

So, value investors might want to wait for estimates and analyst sentiment to turn around in this name first, but once that happens, this stock could be a compelling pick.

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