Does Dewhurst PLC’s (LON:DWHT) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Dewhurst PLC’s (LON:DWHT) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Based on the last twelve months, Dewhurst’s P/E ratio is 18.77. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying £18.77 for every £1 in prior year profit.

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Dewhurst:

P/E of 18.77 = £9 ÷ £0.48 (Based on the year to September 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings 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.’

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. 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. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Dewhurst saw earnings per share decrease by 8.9% last year. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 14%.

How Does Dewhurst’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see Dewhurst has a lower P/E than the average (21) in the electrical industry classification.

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Dewhurst shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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.

How Does Dewhurst’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

The extra options and safety that comes with Dewhurst’s UK£9.4m net cash position means that it deserves a higher P/E than it would if it had a lot of net debt.

The Bottom Line On Dewhurst’s P/E Ratio

Dewhurst’s P/E is 18.8 which is above average (15.7) in the GB market. The recent drop in earnings per share would make some investors cautious, but the healthy balance sheet means the company retains potential for future growth. If fails to eventuate, the current high P/E could prove to be temporary, as the share price falls.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. People often underestimate remarkable growth — so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. 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.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Dewhurst. 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.