Does Meridian Bioscience, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:VIVO) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

Today, we’ll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We’ll show how you can use Meridian Bioscience, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:VIVO) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Meridian Bioscience has a price to earnings ratio of 19.52, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $19.52 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Meridian Bioscience

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Meridian Bioscience:

P/E of 19.52 = $11.81 ÷ $0.61 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Is A High P/E 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 Meridian Bioscience Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see Meridian Bioscience has a lower P/E than the average (42.5) in the medical equipment industry classification.

NasdaqGS:VIVO Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 4th 2019
NasdaqGS:VIVO Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 4th 2019

This suggests that market participants think Meridian Bioscience will underperform other companies in its industry.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

When earnings fall, the ‘E’ decreases, over time. 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.

Meridian Bioscience saw earnings per share improve by -6.0% last year. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 6.8% a year, over 5 years.

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. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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 Meridian Bioscience’s P/E?

Meridian Bioscience has net cash of US$18m. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.

The Bottom Line On Meridian Bioscience’s P/E Ratio

Meridian Bioscience has a P/E of 19.5. That’s higher than the average in its market, which is 17.5. EPS was up modestly better over the last twelve months. Also positive, the relatively strong balance sheet will allow for investment in growth — and the P/E indicates shareholders that will happen!

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

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.

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.