Don’t Sell Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings) PLC (LON:MAB1) Before You Read This

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Today, we’ll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We’ll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings) PLC’s (LON:MAB1), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. What is Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings)’s P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 21.86. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying £21.86 for every £1 in prior year profit.

See our latest analysis for Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings)

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings):

P/E of 21.86 = £5.65 ÷ £0.26 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

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. 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 Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company’s P/E multiple. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings) increased earnings per share by 8.8% last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 34% per year over the last five years.

Does Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings) Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. As you can see below, Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings) has a higher P/E than the average company (8.1) in the mortgage industry.

AIM:MAB1 Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 3rd 2019
AIM:MAB1 Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 3rd 2019

Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings)’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t guarantee future growth. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

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

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

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).

Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings)’s Balance Sheet

Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings) has net cash of UK£26m. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.

The Bottom Line On Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings)’s P/E Ratio

Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings)’s P/E is 21.9 which is above average (16.4) in the GB market. Earnings improved over the last year. Also positive, the relatively strong balance sheet will allow for investment in growth — and the P/E indicates shareholders that will happen!

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. People often underestimate remarkable growth — so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E 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.