Snap-on Incorporated’s (NYSE:SNA) price-to-earnings (or “P/E”) ratio of 14.2x might make it look like a buy right now compared to the market in the United States, where around half of the companies have P/E ratios above 20x and even P/E’s above 38x are quite common. Although, it’s not wise to just take the P/E at face value as there may be an explanation why it’s limited.
Snap-on has been struggling lately as its earnings have declined faster than most other companies. It seems that many are expecting the dismal earnings performance to persist, which has repressed the P/E. If you still like the company, you’d want its earnings trajectory to turn around before making any decisions. Or at the very least, you’d be hoping the earnings slide doesn’t get any worse if your plan is to pick up some stock while it’s out of favour.free report on Snap-on will help you uncover what’s on the horizon.
What Are Growth Metrics Telling Us About The Low P/E?
In order to justify its P/E ratio, Snap-on would need to produce sluggish growth that’s trailing the market.
If we review the last year of earnings, dishearteningly the company’s profits fell to the tune of 16%. Regardless, EPS has managed to lift by a handy 6.3% in aggregate from three years ago, thanks to the earlier period of growth. So we can start by confirming that the company has generally done a good job of growing earnings over that time, even though it had some hiccups along the way.
Shifting to the future, estimates from the seven analysts covering the company suggest earnings should grow by 6.8% per year over the next three years. Meanwhile, the rest of the market is forecast to expand by 14% per year, which is noticeably more attractive.
With this information, we can see why Snap-on is trading at a P/E lower than the market. It seems most investors are expecting to see limited future growth and are only willing to pay a reduced amount for the stock.
The Key Takeaway
It’s argued the price-to-earnings ratio is an inferior measure of value within certain industries, but it can be a powerful business sentiment indicator.
We’ve established that Snap-on maintains its low P/E on the weakness of its forecast growth being lower than the wider market, as expected. At this stage investors feel the potential for an improvement in earnings isn’t great enough to justify a higher P/E ratio. Unless these conditions improve, they will continue to form a barrier for the share price around these levels.
You should always think about risks. Case in point, we’ve spotted 1 warning sign for Snap-on you should be aware of.
It’s important to make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20x).
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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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