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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how Ariadne Australia Limited’s (ASX:ARA) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Ariadne Australia has a P/E ratio of 21.03, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 4.8%.
How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Ariadne Australia:
P/E of 21.03 = A$0.66 ÷ A$0.031 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)
Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?
A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That isn’t necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.
Ariadne Australia’s earnings per share fell by 36% in the last twelve months. But it has grown its earnings per share by 31% per year over the last five years.
How Does Ariadne Australia’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that Ariadne Australia has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the commercial services industry average (20.4).
Ariadne Australia’s P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. So if Ariadne Australia actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Further research into factors such asmanagement tenure, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.
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.
Is Debt Impacting Ariadne Australia’s P/E?
The extra options and safety that comes with Ariadne Australia’s AU$34m net cash position means that it deserves a higher P/E than it would if it had a lot of net debt.
The Bottom Line On Ariadne Australia’s P/E Ratio
Ariadne Australia has a P/E of 21. That’s higher than the average in the AU market, which is 15.7. Falling earnings per share is probably keeping traditional 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!
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. Although we don’t have analyst forecasts, you could get a better understanding of its growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
But note: Ariadne Australia may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.