Should We Worry About United Internet AG’s (FRA:UTDI) P/E Ratio?

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to United Internet AG’s (FRA:UTDI), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, United Internet has a P/E ratio of 32.21. That means that at current prices, buyers pay €32.21 for every €1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for United Internet

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 United Internet:

P/E of 32.21 = €27.96 ÷ €0.87 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

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. 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.’

Does United Internet Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. The image below shows that United Internet has a higher P/E than the average (28.1) P/E for companies in the telecom industry.

DB:UTDI Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 21st 2019
DB:UTDI Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 21st 2019

United Internet’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

United Internet saw earnings per share decrease by 72% last year. But over the longer term (3 years), earnings per share have increased by 8.4%. And EPS is down 7.7% a year, over the last 5 years. This could justify a pessimistic P/E.

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. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. 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.

United Internet’s Balance Sheet

United Internet has net debt equal to 29% of its market cap. While that’s enough to warrant consideration, it doesn’t really concern us.

The Verdict On United Internet’s P/E Ratio

United Internet trades on a P/E ratio of 32.2, which is above its market average of 18.6. With a bit of debt, but a lack of recent growth, it’s safe to say the market is expecting improved profit performance from the company, in the next few years.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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.

But note: United Internet 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 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.