Is Unique Fabricating, Inc.’s (NYSEMKT:UFAB) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Unique Fabricating, Inc.’s (NYSEMKT:UFAB), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Unique Fabricating has a P/E ratio of 14.68. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $14.68 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Unique Fabricating

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Unique Fabricating:

P/E of 14.68 = $3 ÷ $0.20 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing 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 Unique Fabricating 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. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (14.7) for companies in the auto components industry is roughly the same as Unique Fabricating’s P/E.

AMEX:UFAB Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 15th 2019
AMEX:UFAB Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 15th 2019

Its P/E ratio suggests that Unique Fabricating shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

When earnings fall, the ‘E’ decreases, over time. 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.

Unique Fabricating shrunk earnings per share by 67% over the last year. But EPS is up 58% over the last 5 years. And over the longer term (3 years) earnings per share have decreased 32% annually. This growth rate might warrant a low P/E ratio.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet

It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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.

So What Does Unique Fabricating’s Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Unique Fabricating has net debt worth a very significant 183% of its market capitalization. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you must keep in mind that these debt levels would usually warrant a relatively low P/E.

The Verdict On Unique Fabricating’s P/E Ratio

Unique Fabricating has a P/E of 14.7. That’s below the average in the US market, which is 18. The P/E reflects market pessimism that probably arises from the lack of recent EPS growth, paired with significant leverage.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. 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 Unique Fabricating. 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).

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.

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. Thank you for reading.