Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Cameco Corporation (TSE:CCO) Still Undervalued?

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Cameco Corporation’s (TSE:CCO), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. What is Cameco’s P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 66.11. That means that at current prices, buyers pay CA$66.11 for every CA$1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Cameco

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Cameco:

P/E of 66.11 = CAD12.36 ÷ CAD0.19 (Based on the year to December 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each CAD1 the company has earned over the last year. That isn’t necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

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

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Cameco has a significantly higher P/E than the average (11.2) P/E for companies in the oil and gas industry.

TSX:CCO Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 14th 2020
TSX:CCO Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 14th 2020

Cameco’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn’t guaranteed. 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. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Cameco saw earnings per share decrease by 56% last year. But EPS is up 5.0% over the last 5 years.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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 Cameco’s P/E?

The extra options and safety that comes with Cameco’s CA$66m net cash position means that it deserves a higher P/E than it would if it had a lot of net debt.

The Bottom Line On Cameco’s P/E Ratio

Cameco’s P/E is 66.1 which suggests the market is more focussed on the future opportunity rather than the current level of earnings. The recent drop in earnings per share might keep value investors away, but the net cash position means the company has time to improve: and the high P/E suggests the market thinks it will.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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 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.