Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Galliford Try plc (LON:GFRD) Still Undervalued?

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Galliford Try plc’s (LON:GFRD) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Galliford Try has a P/E ratio of 10.59. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 9.4%.

View our latest analysis for Galliford Try

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Galliford Try:

P/E of 10.59 = £8.31 ÷ £0.78 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each £1 of company earnings. 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.

Does Galliford Try Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (10.3) for companies in the construction industry is roughly the same as Galliford Try’s P/E.

LSE:GFRD Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 16th 2019
LSE:GFRD Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 16th 2019

That indicates that the market expects Galliford Try will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. Checking factors such as director buying and selling. could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the ‘E’ in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.

Galliford Try’s earnings per share fell by 35% in the last twelve months. And EPS is down 3.7% a year, over the last 5 years. This could justify a pessimistic P/E.

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

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

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 Galliford Try’s P/E?

Galliford Try has net debt worth just 6.2% of its market capitalization. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.

The Verdict On Galliford Try’s P/E Ratio

Galliford Try has a P/E of 10.6. That’s below the average in the GB market, which is 17.6. The debt levels are not a major concern, but the lack of EPS growth is likely weighing on sentiment.

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 visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

You might be able to find a better buy than Galliford Try. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.