A Sliding Share Price Has Us Looking At Nordson Corporation’s (NASDAQ:NDSN) P/E Ratio

To the annoyance of some shareholders, Nordson (NASDAQ:NDSN) shares are down a considerable 35% in the last month. 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. 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. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors’ expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E implies that investors have high expectations of what a company can achieve compared to a company with a low P/E ratio.

View our latest analysis for Nordson

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

Nordson’s P/E of 19.67 indicates some degree of optimism towards the stock. As you can see below, Nordson has a higher P/E than the average company (16.0) in the machinery industry.

NasdaqGS:NDSN Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 13th 2020
NasdaqGS:NDSN Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 13th 2020

That means that the market expects Nordson will outperform other companies in its industry. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t guarantee future growth. So investors 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. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Nordson increased earnings per share by 6.9% last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 8.0% per year over the last five years.

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

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. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in 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 Nordson’s P/E?

Net debt totals 15% of Nordson’s market cap. That’s enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you’re comparing it to companies without debt.

The Bottom Line On Nordson’s P/E Ratio

Nordson has a P/E of 19.7. That’s higher than the average in its market, which is 13.3. With modest debt relative to its size, and modest earnings growth, the market is likely expecting sustained long-term growth, if not a near-term improvement. Given Nordson’s P/E ratio has declined from 30.1 to 19.7 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 don’t like to trade against momentum, that could be a warning sign, but a contrarian investor might want to take a closer look.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. People often underestimate remarkable growth — so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Nordson. 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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