Do You Like carsales.com Ltd (ASX:CAR) At This P/E Ratio?

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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at carsales.com Ltd’s (ASX:CAR) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, carsales.com has a P/E ratio of 24.48. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 4.1%.

View our latest analysis for carsales.com

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 carsales.com:

P/E of 24.48 = A$13.7 ÷ A$0.56 (Based on the year to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each A$1 of company 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 Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

It’s great to see that carsales.com grew EPS by 10% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 8.1%. So one might expect an above average P/E ratio.

How Does carsales.com’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. As you can see below carsales.com has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the interactive media and services industry, which is 25.2.

ASX:CAR Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 13th 2019
ASX:CAR Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 13th 2019

That indicates that the market expects carsales.com will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. Further research into factors such asmanagement tenure, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.

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

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

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.

So What Does carsales.com’s Balance Sheet Tell Us?

carsales.com has net debt worth 13% of its market capitalization. This could bring some additional risk, and reduce the number of investment options for management; worth remembering if you compare its P/E to businesses without debt.

The Verdict On carsales.com’s P/E Ratio

carsales.com’s P/E is 24.5 which is above average (16.3) in the AU market. The company is not overly constrained by its modest debt levels, and its recent EPS growth very solid. So on this analysis it seems reasonable that its P/E ratio is above average.

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.’ So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

You might be able to find a better buy than carsales.com. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.