Is COFACE SA’s (EPA:COFA) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

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The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at COFACE SA’s (EPA:COFA) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. What is COFACE’s P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 11.25. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 8.9%.

See our latest analysis for COFACE

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for COFACE:

P/E of 11.25 = €8.94 ÷ €0.79 (Based on the year to March 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 €1 the company has earned over the last year. 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. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

COFACE’s 50% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. Having said that, if we look back three years, EPS growth has averaged a comparatively less impressive 4.8%. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 1.4% a year, over 5 years.

Does COFACE 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. If you look at the image below, you can see COFACE has a lower P/E than the average (23.1) in the insurance industry classification.

ENXTPA:COFA Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 8th 2019
ENXTPA:COFA Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 8th 2019

COFACE’s P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with COFACE, it’s quite possible it could surprise on the upside. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

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

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. 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).

Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).

Is Debt Impacting COFACE’s P/E?

COFACE has net debt worth a very significant 190% of its market capitalization. This is a relatively high level of debt, so the stock probably deserves a relatively low P/E ratio. Keep that in mind when comparing it to other companies.

The Bottom Line On COFACE’s P/E Ratio

COFACE has a P/E of 11.2. That’s below the average in the FR market, which is 16.5. The company may have significant debt, but EPS growth was good last year. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue.

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

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

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.