Here’s What Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s (NYSE:ANF) P/E Is Telling Us

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 Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s (NYSE:ANF), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. What is Abercrombie & Fitch’s P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 21.16. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $21.16 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Abercrombie & Fitch

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Abercrombie & Fitch:

P/E of 21.16 = $17.25 ÷ $0.82 (Based on the year to November 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 is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

Does Abercrombie & Fitch 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 Abercrombie & Fitch has a higher P/E than the average (16.4) P/E for companies in the specialty retail industry.

NYSE:ANF Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 30th 2019
NYSE:ANF Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 30th 2019

That means that the market expects Abercrombie & Fitch 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

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company’s P/E multiple. If earnings are growing quickly, then the ‘E’ in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Abercrombie & Fitch saw earnings per share improve by -7.2% last year. And it has improved its earnings per share by 62% per year over the last three years. In contrast, EPS has decreased by 4.0%, annually, over 5 years.

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

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. 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.

How Does Abercrombie & Fitch’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Abercrombie & Fitch has net cash of US$169m. This is fairly high at 16% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.

The Verdict On Abercrombie & Fitch’s P/E Ratio

Abercrombie & Fitch trades on a P/E ratio of 21.2, which is above its market average of 18.9. Recent earnings growth wasn’t bad. And the net cash position provides the company with multiple options. The high P/E suggests the market thinks further growth will come.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, ‘In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

You might be able to find a better buy than Abercrombie & Fitch. 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).

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.