Does GCP Infrastructure Investments Limited’s (LON:GCP) PE Ratio Warrant A Buy?

This article is intended for those of you who are at the beginning of your investing journey and want to begin learning the link between GCP Infrastructure Investments Limited (LON:GCP)’s fundamentals and stock market performance.

GCP Infrastructure Investments Limited (LON:GCP) is currently trading at a trailing P/E of 15.1x, which is lower than the industry average of 15.5x. While GCP might seem like an attractive stock to buy, it is important to understand the assumptions behind the P/E ratio before you make any investment decisions. Today, I will break down what the P/E ratio is, how to interpret it and what to watch out for. See our latest analysis for GCP Infrastructure Investments

Demystifying the P/E ratio

LSE:GCP PE PEG Gauge June 18th 18
LSE:GCP PE PEG Gauge June 18th 18

The P/E ratio is a popular ratio used in relative valuation since earnings power is a key driver of investment value. It compares a stock’s price per share to the stock’s earnings per share. A more intuitive way of understanding the P/E ratio is to think of it as how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

Formula

Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share

P/E Calculation for GCP

Price per share = £1.22

Earnings per share = £0.0809

∴ Price-Earnings Ratio = £1.22 ÷ £0.0809 = 15.1x

On its own, the P/E ratio doesn’t tell you much; however, it becomes extremely useful when you compare it with other similar companies. Ultimately, our goal is to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar attributes to GCP, such as company lifetime and products sold. One way of gathering a peer group is to use firms in the same industry, which is what I’ll do. Since similar companies should technically have similar P/E ratios, we can very quickly come to some conclusions about the stock if the ratios differ.

At 15.1x, GCP’s P/E is lower than its industry peers (15.5x). This implies that investors are undervaluing each dollar of GCP’s earnings. As such, our analysis shows that GCP represents an under-priced stock.

A few caveats

However, before you rush out to buy GCP, it is important to note that this conclusion is based on two key assumptions. The first is that our peer group actually contains companies that are similar to GCP. If this isn’t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to some other factors. For example, if you are inadvertently comparing lower risk firms with GCP, then GCP’s P/E would naturally be lower than its peers, since investors would value those with lower risk with a higher price. The other possibility is if you were accidentally comparing higher growth firms with GCP. In this case, GCP’s P/E would be lower since investors would also reward its peers’ higher growth with a higher price. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing GCP to are fairly valued by the market. If this assumption is violated, GCP’s P/E may be lower than its peers because its peers are actually overvalued by investors.

LSE:GCP Future Profit June 18th 18
LSE:GCP Future Profit June 18th 18

What this means for you:

Since you may have already conducted your due diligence on GCP, the undervaluation of the stock may mean it is a good time to top up on your current holdings. But at the end of the day, keep in mind that relative valuation relies heavily on critical assumptions I’ve outlined above. Remember that basing your investment decision off one metric alone is certainly not sufficient. There are many things I have not taken into account in this article and the PE ratio is very one-dimensional. If you have not done so already, I highly recommend you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Financial Health: Is GCP’s operations financially sustainable? Balance sheets can be hard to analyze, which is why we’ve done it for you. Check out our financial health checks here.
  2. Past Track Record: Has GCP been consistently performing well irrespective of the ups and downs in the market? Go into more detail in the past performance analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of GCP’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.