The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how Synnovia PLC’s (LON:SYN) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Synnovia has a price to earnings ratio of 27.84, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 3.6%.
How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?
The formula for P/E is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Synnovia:
P/E of 27.84 = £0.93 ÷ £0.033 (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. 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
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.
Synnovia shrunk earnings per share by 57% over the last year. But over the longer term (3 years), earnings per share have increased by 307%. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 12% per year over the last five years. This growth rate might warrant a below average P/E ratio.
Does Synnovia 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. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (25.6) for companies in the chemicals industry is lower than Synnovia’s P/E.
Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Synnovia shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. 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.
Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.
While growth expenditure doesn’t always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.
So What Does Synnovia’s Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Net debt is 45% of Synnovia’s market cap. While that’s enough to warrant consideration, it doesn’t really concern us.
The Verdict On Synnovia’s P/E Ratio
Synnovia’s P/E is 27.8 which is above average (16) in the GB market. With modest debt but no EPS growth in the last year, it’s fair to say the P/E implies some optimism about future earnings, from the market.
Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, ‘In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.’ So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.
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 email@example.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.