Today, we’ll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. To keep it practical, we’ll show how Henry Boot PLC’s (LON:BOOT) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. What is Henry Boot’s P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 9.16. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 11%.
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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 Henry Boot:
P/E of 9.16 = £2.59 ÷ £0.28 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)
Is A High P/E Ratio Good?
A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each £1 of company earnings. 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
P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.
Henry Boot’s earnings per share fell by 12% in the last twelve months. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 27%.
Does Henry Boot 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. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (10.1) for companies in the consumer durables industry is higher than Henry Boot’s P/E.
Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Henry Boot shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. 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.
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).
Henry Boot’s Balance Sheet
Henry Boot has net debt worth just 5.3% of its market capitalization. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.
The Verdict On Henry Boot’s P/E Ratio
Henry Boot’s P/E is 9.2 which is below average (16.2) in the GB market. The debt levels are not a major concern, but the lack of EPS growth is likely weighing on sentiment.
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 visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.
You might be able to find a better buy than Henry Boot. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.