It’s really great to see that even after a strong run, Alpha Pro Tech (NYSEMKT:APT) shares have been powering on, with a gain of 64% in the last thirty days. That’s tops off a massive gain of 143% in the last year.
Assuming no other changes, a sharply higher share price makes a stock less attractive to potential buyers. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that deep value investors might steer clear when expectations of a company are too high. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors’ expectations of a business 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 Alpha Pro Tech’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
Alpha Pro Tech’s P/E of 40.35 indicates some degree of optimism towards the stock. As you can see below, Alpha Pro Tech has a higher P/E than the average company (20.9) in the building industry.
Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Alpha Pro Tech shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t guarantee future growth. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. If earnings are growing quickly, then the ‘E’ in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.
Alpha Pro Tech’s earnings per share fell by 12% in the last twelve months. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 8.9%.
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. 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.
While growth expenditure doesn’t always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.
Alpha Pro Tech’s Balance Sheet
Since Alpha Pro Tech holds net cash of US$6.9m, it can spend on growth, justifying a higher P/E ratio than otherwise.
The Bottom Line On Alpha Pro Tech’s P/E Ratio
Alpha Pro Tech’s P/E is 40.3 which is above average (15.3) in its market. The recent drop in earnings per share might keep value investors away, but the relatively strong balance sheet will allow the company time to invest in growth. Clearly, the high P/E indicates shareholders think it will! What we know for sure is that investors have become much more excited about Alpha Pro Tech recently, since they have pushed its P/E ratio from 24.7 to 40.3 over the last month. If you like to buy stocks that have recently impressed the market, then this one might be a candidate; but if you prefer to invest when there is ‘blood in the streets’, then you may feel the opportunity has passed.
Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, ‘In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine. We don’t have analyst forecasts, but you could get a better understanding of its growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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 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.
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