A Sliding Share Price Has Us Looking At AVJennings Limited’s (ASX:AVJ) P/E Ratio

Unfortunately for some shareholders, the AVJennings (ASX:AVJ) share price has dived 31% in the last thirty days. The recent drop has obliterated the annual return, with the share price now down 11% over that longer period.

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. So, on certain occasions, long term focussed investors try to take advantage of pessimistic expectations to buy shares at a better price. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock 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.

Check out our latest analysis for AVJennings

How Does AVJennings’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

AVJennings’s P/E of 7.34 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. If you look at the image below, you can see AVJennings has a lower P/E than the average (14.2) in the real estate industry classification.

ASX:AVJ Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 16th 2020
ASX:AVJ Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 16th 2020

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that AVJennings shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Since the market seems unimpressed with AVJennings, it’s quite possible it could surprise on the upside. 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

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the ‘E’ in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others — and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

Notably, AVJennings grew EPS by a whopping 33% in the last year. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 16% a year, over 3 years.

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. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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 AVJennings’s P/E?

Net debt totals 85% of AVJennings’s market cap. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you should absolutely keep in mind it has significant borrowings.

The Verdict On AVJennings’s P/E Ratio

AVJennings has a P/E of 7.3. That’s below the average in the AU market, which is 14.9. The company may have significant debt, but EPS growth was good last year. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become more pessimistic about AVJennings over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 10.6 back then to 7.3 today. For those who prefer invest in growth, this stock apparently offers limited promise, but the deep value investors may find the pessimism around this stock enticing.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

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.

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.