Read This Before You Buy Manulife Financial Corporation (TSE:MFC) Because Of Its P/E Ratio

By
Simply Wall St
Published
August 25, 2019

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use Manulife Financial Corporation's (TSE:MFC) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Manulife Financial has a P/E ratio of 7.58, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 13%.

How Do I Calculate Manulife Financial's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Manulife Financial:

P/E of 7.58 = CA\$21.67 ÷ CA\$2.86 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each CA\$1 the company has earned over the last year. All else being equal, it's better to pay a low price -- but as Warren Buffett said, 'It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.'

How Does Manulife Financial'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 Manulife Financial has a lower P/E than the average (11.8) P/E for companies in the insurance industry.

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Manulife Financial shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification.

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 unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

In the last year, Manulife Financial grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 188% gain was both fast and well deserved. Even better, EPS is up 31% per year over three years. So we'd absolutely expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.

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

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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.

Manulife Financial's Balance Sheet

With net cash of CA\$12b, Manulife Financial has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 29% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Verdict On Manulife Financial's P/E Ratio

Manulife Financial has a P/E of 7.6. That's below the average in the CA market, which is 13.9. It grew its EPS nicely over the last year, and the healthy balance sheet implies there is more potential for growth. The below average P/E ratio suggests that market participants don't believe the strong growth will continue.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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. 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 Manulife Financial. 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.

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