To the annoyance of some shareholders, BigBen Interactive (EPA:BIG) shares are down a considerable 33% in the last month. Looking back over the last year, the stock has been a solid performer, with a gain of 21%.
Assuming nothing else has changed, a lower share price makes a stock more attractive to potential buyers. In the long term, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, but in the short term prices bounce around in response to short term factors (which are not always obvious). So, on certain occasions, long term focussed investors try to take advantage of pessimistic expectations to buy shares at a better price. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors’ expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E implies that investors have high expectations of what a company can achieve compared to a company with a low P/E ratio.
How Does BigBen Interactive’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
BigBen Interactive’s P/E is 10.51. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (10.5) for companies in the consumer durables industry is roughly the same as BigBen Interactive’s P/E.
BigBen Interactive’s P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. Checking factors such as director buying and selling. could help you form your own view on if that will happen.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.
In the last year, BigBen Interactive grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 70% gain was both fast and well deserved. And earnings per share have improved by 72% annually, over the last three years. So you might say it really deserves to have an above-average P/E ratio.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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.
Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).
How Does BigBen Interactive’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
BigBen Interactive’s net debt equates to 27% of its market capitalization. You’d want to be aware of this fact, but it doesn’t bother us.
The Bottom Line On BigBen Interactive’s P/E Ratio
BigBen Interactive trades on a P/E ratio of 10.5, which is below the FR market average of 14.2. The company hasn’t stretched its balance sheet, and earnings growth was good last year. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low. Since analysts are predicting growth will continue, one might expect to see a higher P/E so it may be worth looking closer. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become significantly less optimistic about BigBen Interactive over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 15.7 back then to 10.5 today. For those who don’t like to trade against momentum, that could be a warning sign, but a contrarian investor might want to take a closer look.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.
But note: BigBen Interactive 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).
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.