Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Innophos Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:IPHS) Still Undervalued?

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how Innophos Holdings, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:IPHS) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Innophos Holdings has a P/E ratio of 21.89, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay \$21.89 for every \$1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Innophos Holdings

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 Innophos Holdings:

P/E of 21.89 = \$32.35 ÷ \$1.48 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 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 \$1 the company has earned over the last year. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

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

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. As you can see below, Innophos Holdings has a higher P/E than the average company (19.4) in the chemicals industry.

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Innophos Holdings shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Innophos Holdings’s 65% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. Having said that, the average EPS growth over the last three years wasn’t so good, coming in at 3.6%. Regrettably, the longer term performance is poor, with EPS down 12% per year over 5 years. The company could impress by growing EPS, in the future. Further research into factors such as insider buying and selling, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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).

Is Debt Impacting Innophos Holdings’s P/E?

Innophos Holdings has net debt equal to 48% of its market cap. While that’s enough to warrant consideration, it doesn’t really concern us.

The Bottom Line On Innophos Holdings’s P/E Ratio

Innophos Holdings has a P/E of 21.9. That’s higher than the average in its market, which is 17.4. The company is not overly constrained by its modest debt levels, and its recent EPS growth is nothing short of stand-out. So to be frank we are not surprised it has a high P/E ratio.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: Innophos Holdings may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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.

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. Thank you for reading.