Should We Worry About Republic Services, Inc.’s (NYSE:RSG) P/E Ratio?

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Republic Services, Inc.’s (NYSE:RSG) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Based on the last twelve months, Republic Services’s P/E ratio is 26.15. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $26.15 for every $1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for Republic Services

How Do You Calculate Republic Services’s P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Republic Services:

P/E of 26.15 = $84.89 ÷ $3.25 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 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 $1 the company has earned over the last year. 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.’

How Does Republic Services’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (24.4) for companies in the commercial services industry is roughly the same as Republic Services’s P/E.

NYSE:RSG Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 17th 2019
NYSE:RSG Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 17th 2019

That indicates that the market expects Republic Services will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry.

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. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Republic Services’s earnings per share fell by 21% in the last twelve months. But it has grown its earnings per share by 10% per year over the last five years. The market might therefore be optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t guarantee future growth. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

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).

Is Debt Impacting Republic Services’s P/E?

Net debt is 30% of Republic Services’s market cap. You’d want to be aware of this fact, but it doesn’t bother us.

The Bottom Line On Republic Services’s P/E Ratio

Republic Services has a P/E of 26.1. That’s higher than the average in its market, which is 18.2. With some debt but no EPS growth last year, the market has high expectations of future profits.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. 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.

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

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.