Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Sanofi (EPA:SAN) Still Undervalued?

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Sanofi’s (EPA:SAN), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Sanofi has a P/E ratio of 36.12, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 2.8%.

See our latest analysis for Sanofi

How Do I Calculate Sanofi’s Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Sanofi:

P/E of 36.12 = €92.00 ÷ €2.55 (Based on the year to September 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing 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 Sanofi Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that Sanofi has a higher P/E than the average (22.1) P/E for companies in the pharmaceuticals industry.

ENXTPA:SAN Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 10th 2020
ENXTPA:SAN Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 10th 2020

That means that the market expects Sanofi will outperform other companies in its industry. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn’t guaranteed. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

If earnings fall then in the future the ‘E’ will be lower. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others — and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

Sanofi saw earnings per share decrease by 21% last year. And EPS is down 4.0% a year, over the last 5 years. This growth rate might warrant a below average P/E ratio.

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

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. 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).

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

Sanofi’s Balance Sheet

Sanofi’s net debt is 16% of its market cap. This could bring some additional risk, and reduce the number of investment options for management; worth remembering if you compare its P/E to businesses without debt.

The Verdict On Sanofi’s P/E Ratio

Sanofi trades on a P/E ratio of 36.1, which is above its market average of 18.5. With a bit of debt, but a lack of recent growth, it’s safe to say the market is expecting improved profit performance from the company, in the next few years.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 Sanofi. 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.

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.