Is Zwahlen & Mayr SA’s (VTX:ZWM) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how Zwahlen & Mayr SA’s (VTX:ZWM) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Based on the last twelve months, Zwahlen & Mayr’s P/E ratio is 5.02. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 20%.

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How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Zwahlen & Mayr:

P/E of 5.02 = CHF250 ÷ CHF49.81 (Based on the year to June 2018.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That isn’t a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business’s prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. 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.

Zwahlen & Mayr increased earnings per share by a whopping 355% last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 56%. With that performance, I would expect it to have an above average P/E ratio.

How Does Zwahlen & Mayr’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that Zwahlen & Mayr has a lower P/E than the average (10.4) P/E for companies in the construction industry.

SWX:ZWM PE PEG Gauge January 11th 19
SWX:ZWM PE PEG Gauge January 11th 19

This suggests that market participants think Zwahlen & Mayr will underperform other companies in its industry. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. 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 taking on debt (or spending its remaining 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.

Is Debt Impacting Zwahlen & Mayr’s P/E?

Zwahlen & Mayr has net debt worth 23% of its market capitalization. That’s enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you’re comparing it to companies without debt.

The Verdict On Zwahlen & Mayr’s P/E Ratio

Zwahlen & Mayr has a P/E of 5. That’s below the average in the CH market, which is 18.2. The company hasn’t stretched its balance sheet, and earnings growth was good last year. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue.

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.’ Although we don’t have analyst forecasts, you could get a better understanding of its growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Zwahlen & Mayr. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.