To the annoyance of some shareholders, Hang Lung Group (HKG:10) shares are down a considerable 32% in the last month. Indeed the recent decline has arguably caused some bitterness for shareholders who have held through the 42% drop over twelve months.
All else being equal, a share price drop should make a stock more attractive to potential investors. 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). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.
Does Hang Lung Group Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
Hang Lung Group’s P/E of 2.84 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. The image below shows that Hang Lung Group has a lower P/E than the average (6.2) P/E for companies in the real estate industry.
Hang Lung Group’s P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company’s P/E multiple. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.
Hang Lung Group increased earnings per share by a whopping 29% last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 3 years is 22%. I’d therefore be a little surprised if its P/E ratio was not relatively high.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. 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 spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.
How Does Hang Lung Group’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Net debt totals a substantial 131% of Hang Lung Group’s market cap. This is a relatively high level of debt, so the stock probably deserves a relatively low P/E ratio. Keep that in mind when comparing it to other companies.
The Verdict On Hang Lung Group’s P/E Ratio
Hang Lung Group has a P/E of 2.8. That’s below the average in the HK market, which is 8.6. The company has a meaningful amount of debt on the balance sheet, but that should not eclipse the solid earnings growth. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low. Given Hang Lung Group’s P/E ratio has declined from 4.2 to 2.8 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 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 it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. We don’t have analyst forecasts, but you might want to assess this data-rich visualization 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 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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