A Sliding Share Price Has Us Looking At Citi Trends, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:CTRN) P/E Ratio

Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Citi Trends (NASDAQ:CTRN) share price has dived 54% in the last thirty days. That drop has capped off a tough year for shareholders, with the share price down 42% in that time.

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. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E ratio means that investors have a high expectation about future growth, while a low P/E ratio means they have low expectations about future growth.

Check out our latest analysis for Citi Trends

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

Citi Trends’s P/E of 7.55 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. The image below shows that Citi Trends has a lower P/E than the average (8.7) P/E for companies in the specialty retail industry.

NasdaqGS:CTRN Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 20th 2020
NasdaqGS:CTRN Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 20th 2020

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Citi Trends shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Since the market seems unimpressed with Citi Trends, it’s quite possible it could surprise on the upside. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. If earnings are growing quickly, then the ‘E’ in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Citi Trends’s earnings per share fell by 14% in the last twelve months. But it has grown its earnings per share by 19% per year over the last five years.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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.

While growth expenditure doesn’t always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

Is Debt Impacting Citi Trends’s P/E?

With net cash of US$47m, Citi Trends has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 39% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Verdict On Citi Trends’s P/E Ratio

Citi Trends has a P/E of 7.6. That’s below the average in the US market, which is 12.2. The recent drop in earnings per share would almost certainly temper expectations, but the net cash position means the company has time to improve: if so, the low P/E could be an opportunity. Given Citi Trends’s P/E ratio has declined from 16.3 to 7.6 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.

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. We don’t have analyst forecasts, but you could get a better understanding of its growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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.