The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how DWS Limited’s (ASX:DWS) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Based on the last twelve months, DWS’s P/E ratio is 11.64. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 8.6%.
How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for DWS:
P/E of 11.64 = A$1.1 ÷ A$0.095 (Based on the year to December 2018.)
Is A High P/E Ratio Good?
A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each A$1 of company earnings. 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
If earnings fall then in the future the ‘E’ will be lower. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others — and that may encourage shareholders to sell.
DWS shrunk earnings per share by 32% over the last year. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 6.1%. And EPS is down 1.3% a year, over the last 3 years. This growth rate might warrant a low P/E ratio.
How Does DWS’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see DWS has a lower P/E than the average (15.8) in the it industry classification.
Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that DWS shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.
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 DWS’s P/E?
Net debt totals 23% of DWS’s market cap. 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 DWS’s P/E Ratio
DWS has a P/E of 11.6. That’s below the average in the AU market, which is 16.3. The debt levels are not a major concern, but the lack of EPS growth is likely weighing on sentiment.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. We don’t have analyst forecasts, but you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
But note: DWS 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.