Read This Before You Buy System1 Group PLC (LON:SYS1) Because Of Its P/E Ratio

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 System1 Group PLC’s (LON:SYS1) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, System1 Group has a P/E ratio of 17.15. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying £17.15 for every £1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for System1 Group

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 System1 Group:

P/E of 17.15 = £2.02 ÷ £0.12 (Based on the year to September 2019.)

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.

Does System1 Group Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that System1 Group has a lower P/E than the average (21.8) P/E for companies in the media industry.

AIM:SYS1 Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 11th 2019
AIM:SYS1 Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 11th 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that System1 Group shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Since the market seems unimpressed with System1 Group, it’s quite possible it could surprise on the upside. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the ‘E’ in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.

System1 Group’s earnings per share grew by -8.5% in the last twelve months. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 12% a year, over 5 years.

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. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

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.

How Does System1 Group’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

System1 Group has net cash of UK£4.1m. This is fairly high at 16% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.

The Verdict On System1 Group’s P/E Ratio

System1 Group trades on a P/E ratio of 17.2, which is fairly close to the GB market average of 17.2. Recent earnings growth wasn’t bad. And the net cash position gives the company many options. The average P/E suggests the market isn’t overly optimistic, though.

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.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than System1 Group. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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.

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. Thank you for reading.