Interface (NASDAQ:TILE) shareholders are no doubt pleased to see that the share price has bounced 34% in the last month alone, although it is still down 45% over the last quarter. But shareholders may not all be feeling jubilant, since the share price is still down 46% in the last year.
Assuming no other changes, a sharply higher share price makes a stock less 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). The implication here is that deep value investors might steer clear when expectations of a company are too high. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E ratio means that investors have a high expectation about future growth, while a low P/E ratio means they have low expectations about future growth.
How Does Interface’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 6.71 that sentiment around Interface isn’t particularly high. The image below shows that Interface has a lower P/E than the average (22.4) P/E for companies in the commercial services industry.
This suggests that market participants think Interface will underperform other companies in its industry. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or 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. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. 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.
Interface’s earnings made like a rocket, taking off 59% last year. The cherry on top is that the five year growth rate was an impressive 29% per year. With that kind of growth rate we would generally expect a high P/E ratio.
Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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.
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.
How Does Interface’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Net debt totals 99% of Interface’s market cap. This is enough debt that you’d have to make some adjustments before using the P/E ratio to compare it to a company with net cash.
The Bottom Line On Interface’s P/E Ratio
Interface has a P/E of 6.7. That’s below the average in the US market, which is 14.4. While the EPS growth last year was strong, the significant debt levels reduce the number of options available to management. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue. What we know for sure is that investors are becoming less uncomfortable about Interface’s prospects, since they have pushed its P/E ratio from 5.0 to 6.7 over the last month. For those who like to invest in turnarounds, that might mean it’s time to put the stock on a watchlist, or research it. But others might consider the opportunity to have passed.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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.
You might be able to find a better buy than Interface. 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 email@example.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.