Don’t Sell Rathbone Brothers Plc (LON:RAT) Before You Read This

Today, we’ll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We’ll look at Rathbone Brothers Plc’s (LON:RAT) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. What is Rathbone Brothers’s P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 45.59. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying £45.59 for every £1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for Rathbone Brothers

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Rathbone Brothers:

P/E of 45.59 = £21.55 ÷ £0.47 (Based on the trailing twelve months 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.’

How Does Rathbone Brothers’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. As you can see below, Rathbone Brothers has a higher P/E than the average company (16.4) in the capital markets industry.

LSE:RAT Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 14th 2019
LSE:RAT Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 14th 2019

That means that the market expects Rathbone Brothers will outperform other companies in its industry.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

When earnings fall, the ‘E’ decreases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.

Rathbone Brothers saw earnings per share decrease by 60% last year. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 12% per year over the last five years. This might lead to muted expectations.

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. 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).

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.

Rathbone Brothers’s Balance Sheet

Rathbone Brothers’s net debt is 1.3% of its market cap. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.

The Verdict On Rathbone Brothers’s P/E Ratio

Rathbone Brothers has a P/E of 45.6. That’s higher than the average in its market, which is 16. With some debt but no EPS growth last year, the market has high expectations of future profits.

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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

But note: Rathbone Brothers 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.