Don’t Sell Spirit Telecom Limited (ASX:ST1) Before You Read This

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll show how you can use Spirit Telecom Limited’s (ASX:ST1) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Spirit Telecom has a price to earnings ratio of 67.05, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay A$67.05 for every A$1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Spirit Telecom

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Spirit Telecom:

P/E of 67.05 = A$0.17 ÷ A$0.0026 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 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. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

Spirit Telecom shrunk earnings per share by 1.7% last year. But EPS is up 100% over the last 3 years.

How Does Spirit Telecom’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 Spirit Telecom has a higher P/E than the average (25.5) P/E for companies in the telecom industry.

ASX:ST1 PE PEG Gauge November 6th 18
ASX:ST1 PE PEG Gauge November 6th 18

Spirit Telecom’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn’t guaranteed. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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.

Spirit Telecom’s Balance Sheet

Spirit Telecom has net debt worth just 0.4% of its market capitalization. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Bottom Line On Spirit Telecom’s P/E Ratio

Spirit Telecom has a P/E of 67. That’s significantly higher than the average in the AU market, which is 15.8. With some debt but no EPS growth last year, the market has high expectations of future profits.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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.

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.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.