Why Dominion Energy, Inc.’s (NYSE:D) High P/E Ratio Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing

Today, we’ll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We’ll show how you can use Dominion Energy, Inc.’s (NYSE:D) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Dominion Energy has a price to earnings ratio of 64.05, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 1.6%.

Check out our latest analysis for Dominion Energy

How Do I Calculate Dominion Energy’s Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Dominion Energy:

P/E of 64.05 = $82.00 ÷ $1.28 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 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. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

How Does Dominion Energy’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. As you can see below, Dominion Energy has a much higher P/E than the average company (20.6) in the integrated utilities industry.

NYSE:D Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 3rd 2019
NYSE:D Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 3rd 2019

Dominion Energy’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and 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. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.

Dominion Energy shrunk earnings per share by 73% over the last year. And over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have decreased 13% annually. This might lead to muted expectations.

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

It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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.

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

Dominion Energy’s Balance Sheet

Net debt totals 61% of Dominion Energy’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 Dominion Energy’s P/E Ratio

Dominion Energy’s P/E is 64.1 which suggests the market is more focussed on the future opportunity rather than the current level of earnings. With meaningful debt and a lack of recent earnings growth, the market has high expectations that the business will earn more 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.