A Sliding Share Price Has Us Looking At MGP Ingredients, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:MGPI) P/E Ratio

Unfortunately for some shareholders, the MGP Ingredients (NASDAQ:MGPI) share price has dived 30% in the last thirty days. Indeed the recent decline has arguably caused some bitterness for shareholders who have held through the 53% drop over twelve months.

All else being equal, a share price drop should make a stock more attractive to potential investors. In the long term, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, but in the short term prices bounce around in response to short term factors (which are not always obvious). 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). 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.

See our latest analysis for MGP Ingredients

Does MGP Ingredients Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

We can tell from its P/E ratio of 15.39 that sentiment around MGP Ingredients isn’t particularly high. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (32.4) for companies in the beverage industry is higher than MGP Ingredients’s P/E.

NasdaqGS:MGPI Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 31st 2020
NasdaqGS:MGPI Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 31st 2020

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that MGP Ingredients shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

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. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

MGP Ingredients saw earnings per share decrease by 1.2% last year. But EPS is up 19% over the last 5 years.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).

So What Does MGP Ingredients’s Balance Sheet Tell Us?

MGP Ingredients has net debt worth just 6.3% of its market capitalization. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Verdict On MGP Ingredients’s P/E Ratio

MGP Ingredients has a P/E of 15.4. That’s below the average in the US market, which is 18.4. Since it only carries a modest debt load, it’s likely the low expectations implied by the P/E ratio arise from the lack of recent earnings growth. Given MGP Ingredients’s P/E ratio has declined from 22.1 to 15.4 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is significantly less confident 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 a contrarian, it may signal opportunity.

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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than MGP Ingredients. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.

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