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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 apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Fortuna Silver Mines Inc.’s (TSE:FVI), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Fortuna Silver Mines has a price to earnings ratio of 18.36, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying CA$18.36 for every CA$1 in prior year profit.
How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price (in reporting currency) ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Fortuna Silver Mines:
P/E of 18.36 = $2.58 (Note: this is the share price in the reporting currency, namely, USD ) ÷ $0.14 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)
Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?
A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each CA$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
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. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.
Fortuna Silver Mines shrunk earnings per share by 67% over the last year.
Does Fortuna Silver Mines Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Fortuna Silver Mines has a higher P/E than the average (13.6) P/E for companies in the metals and mining industry.
Fortuna Silver Mines’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. 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
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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 expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.
So What Does Fortuna Silver Mines’s Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Since Fortuna Silver Mines holds net cash of US$27m, it can spend on growth, justifying a higher P/E ratio than otherwise.
The Verdict On Fortuna Silver Mines’s P/E Ratio
Fortuna Silver Mines trades on a P/E ratio of 18.4, which is above the CA market average of 14.9. The recent drop in earnings per share might keep value investors away, but the net cash position means the company has time to improve: and the high P/E suggests the market thinks it will.
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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.
You might be able to find a better buy than Fortuna Silver Mines. 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 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.