Don’t Sell Oil Search Limited (ASX:OSH) Before You Read This

Today, we’ll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We’ll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Oil Search Limited’s (ASX:OSH), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Oil Search has a P/E ratio of 15.41, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 6.5%.

See our latest analysis for Oil Search

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share (in the reporting currency) ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Oil Search:

P/E of 15.41 = USD4.29 (Note: this is the share price in the reporting currency, namely, USD ) ÷ USD0.28 (Based on the year 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 USD1 the company has earned over the last year. That isn’t a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business’s prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

How Does Oil Search’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. As you can see below, Oil Search has a higher P/E than the average company (9.4) in the oil and gas industry.

ASX:OSH Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 12th 2020
ASX:OSH Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 12th 2020

Oil Search’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

In the last year, Oil Search grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 68% gain was both fast and well deserved.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. 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.

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

How Does Oil Search’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Oil Search’s net debt equates to 39% of its market capitalization. You’d want to be aware of this fact, but it doesn’t bother us.

The Verdict On Oil Search’s P/E Ratio

Oil Search has a P/E of 15.4. That’s below the average in the AU market, which is 18.7. The company hasn’t stretched its balance sheet, and earnings growth was good last year. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

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.

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.