Here’s How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand Ausdrill Limited (ASX:ASL)

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Ausdrill Limited’s (ASX:ASL), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Based on the last twelve months, Ausdrill’s P/E ratio is 3.14. That means that at current prices, buyers pay A$3.14 for every A$1 in trailing yearly profits.

View our latest analysis for Ausdrill

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Ausdrill:

P/E of 3.14 = A$1.7 ÷ A$0.54 (Based on the year to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each A$1 the company has earned over the last year. That isn’t a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business’s prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

Ausdrill’s earnings made like a rocket, taking off 236% last year. The sweetener is that the annual five year growth rate of 24% is also impressive. With that kind of growth rate we would generally expect a high P/E ratio.

Does Ausdrill Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (12.3) for companies in the metals and mining industry is higher than Ausdrill’s P/E.

ASX:ASL Price Estimation Relative to Market, April 25th 2019
ASX:ASL Price Estimation Relative to Market, April 25th 2019

Ausdrill’s P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. 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.

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).

Ausdrill’s Balance Sheet

Net debt is 47% of Ausdrill’s market cap. You’d want to be aware of this fact, but it doesn’t bother us.

The Verdict On Ausdrill’s P/E Ratio

Ausdrill’s P/E is 3.1 which is below average (16.3) in the AU market. The company does have a little debt, and EPS growth was good last year. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Ausdrill. 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.