Here’s What Huaneng Power International, Inc.’s (HKG:902) P/E Is Telling Us

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Huaneng Power International, Inc.’s (HKG:902) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Based on the last twelve months, Huaneng Power International’s P/E ratio is 12.07. That means that at current prices, buyers pay HK$12.07 for every HK$1 in trailing yearly profits.

View our latest analysis for Huaneng Power International

How Do I Calculate Huaneng Power International’s Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Huaneng Power International:

P/E of 12.07 = HK$3.50 (Note: this is the share price in the reporting currency, namely, CNY ) ÷ HK$0.29 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each HK$1 of company earnings. 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 Huaneng Power International Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. The image below shows that Huaneng Power International has a higher P/E than the average (7.7) P/E for companies in the renewable energy industry.

SEHK:902 Price Estimation Relative to Market, November 28th 2019
SEHK:902 Price Estimation Relative to Market, November 28th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Huaneng Power International shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t guarantee future growth. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the ‘E’ in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.

Huaneng Power International’s 466% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 20% a year, over 5 years.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in 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.

Is Debt Impacting Huaneng Power International’s P/E?

Huaneng Power International has net debt worth a very significant 287% of its market capitalization. This is a relatively high level of debt, so the stock probably deserves a relatively low P/E ratio. Keep that in mind when comparing it to other companies.

The Verdict On Huaneng Power International’s P/E Ratio

Huaneng Power International trades on a P/E ratio of 12.1, which is above its market average of 10.2. Its meaningful level of debt should warrant a lower P/E ratio, but the fast EPS growth is a positive. So despite the debt it is, perhaps, not unreasonable to see a high P/E ratio.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Huaneng Power International. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.