Is Distil plc’s (LON:DIS) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll show how you can use Distil plc’s (LON:DIS) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Based on the last twelve months, Distil’s P/E ratio is 37.59. That means that at current prices, buyers pay £37.59 for every £1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Distil

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Distil:

P/E of 37.59 = £0.021 ÷ £0.00055 (Based on the year to September 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each £1 of company earnings. 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

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

Distil increased earnings per share by a whopping 268% last year. And earnings per share have improved by 66% annually, over the last five years. So we’d generally expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.

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

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that Distil has a higher P/E than the average (23.9) P/E for companies in the beverage industry.

AIM:DIS PE PEG Gauge February 11th 19
AIM:DIS PE PEG Gauge February 11th 19

Distil’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn’t guaranteed. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

Distil’s Balance Sheet

Distil has net cash of UK£957k. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.

The Verdict On Distil’s P/E Ratio

Distil’s P/E is 37.6 which is above average (15.6) in the GB market. Its net cash position supports a higher P/E ratio, as does its solid recent earnings growth. Therefore it seems reasonable that the market would have relatively high expectations of the company

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold they 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.

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.