Is Campbell Soup Company’s (NYSE:CPB) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll show how you can use Campbell Soup Company’s (NYSE:CPB) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Based on the last twelve months, Campbell Soup’s P/E ratio is 30.91. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 3.2%.

See our latest analysis for Campbell Soup

How Do You Calculate Campbell Soup’s P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Campbell Soup:

P/E of 30.91 = USD47.54 ÷ USD1.54 (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each USD1 the company has earned over the last year. That isn’t necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

How Does Campbell Soup’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. As you can see below, Campbell Soup has a higher P/E than the average company (25.4) in the food industry.

NYSE:CPB Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 15th 2020
NYSE:CPB Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 15th 2020

That means that the market expects Campbell Soup will outperform other companies in its industry. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t guarantee future growth. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

When earnings fall, the ‘E’ decreases, over time. That means unless the share price falls, the P/E will increase in a few years. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others — and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

Campbell Soup saw earnings per share decrease by 27% last year. And over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have decreased 9.7% annually. This might lead to muted expectations.

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. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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 Campbell Soup’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Net debt totals 58% of Campbell Soup’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 Campbell Soup’s P/E Ratio

Campbell Soup trades on a P/E ratio of 30.9, which is above its market average of 18.9. With relatively high debt, and no earnings per share growth over twelve months, it’s safe to say the market believes the company will improve its earnings growth in the future.

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 visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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.