Don’t Sell Mueller Water Products, Inc. (NYSE:MWA) Before You Read This

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll show how you can use Mueller Water Products, Inc.’s (NYSE:MWA) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Mueller Water Products has a price to earnings ratio of 34.24, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 2.9%.

Check out our latest analysis for Mueller Water Products

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Mueller Water Products:

P/E of 34.24 = $10.54 ÷ $0.31 (Based on the year to June 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. All else being equal, it’s better to pay a low price — but as Warren Buffett said, ‘It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.’

Does Mueller Water Products 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 Mueller Water Products has a higher P/E than the average (19.7) P/E for companies in the machinery industry.

NYSE:MWA Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 9th 2019
NYSE:MWA Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 9th 2019

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

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

Mueller Water Products saw earnings per share decrease by 52% last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 1.2% per year over the last five years.

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. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

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.

Mueller Water Products’s Balance Sheet

Mueller Water Products has net debt worth 18% of its market capitalization. That’s enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you’re comparing it to companies without debt.

The Verdict On Mueller Water Products’s P/E Ratio

Mueller Water Products’s P/E is 34.2 which is above average (17.5) in its market. 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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

You might be able to find a better buy than Mueller Water Products. 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).

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.