Panther Securities Plc (AIM:PNS) is currently trading at a trailing P/E of 3.1x, which is lower than the industry average of 9.4x. Although some investors may jump to the conclusion that this is a great buying opportunity, understanding the assumptions behind the P/E ratio might change your mind. In this article, I will deconstruct the P/E ratio and highlight what you need to be careful of when using the P/E ratio. Check out our latest analysis for Panther Securities
What you need to know about the P/E ratio
The P/E ratio is one of many ratios used in relative valuation. By comparing a stock’s price per share to its earnings per share, we are able to see how much investors are paying for each pound of the company’s earnings.
Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share
P/E Calculation for PNS
Price per share = £3.75
Earnings per share = £1.202
∴ Price-Earnings Ratio = £3.75 ÷ £1.202 = 3.1x
The P/E ratio itself doesn’t tell you a lot; however, it becomes very insightful when you compare it with other similar companies. Ideally, we want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar characteristics as PNS, such as size and country of operation. A quick method of creating a peer group is to use companies in the same industry, which is what I will 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.
PNS’s P/E of 3.1x is lower than its industry peers (9.4x), which implies that each dollar of PNS’s earnings is being undervalued by investors. Therefore, according to this analysis, PNS is an under-priced stock.
Assumptions to watch out for
However, before you rush out to buy PNS, it is important to note that this conclusion is based on two key assumptions. The first is that our “similar companies” are actually similar to PNS. If the companies aren’t similar, the difference in P/E might be a result of other factors. For example, if you accidentally compared higher growth firms with PNS, then PNS’s P/E would naturally be lower since investors would reward its peers’ higher growth with a higher price. Alternatively, if you inadvertently compared less risky firms with PNS, PNS’s P/E would again be lower since investors would reward its peers’ lower risk with a higher price as well. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing PNS to are fairly valued by the market. If this assumption is violated, PNS’s P/E may be lower than its peers because its peers are actually overvalued by investors.
What this means for you:
Since you may have already conducted your due diligence on PNS, 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 urge you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:
- Financial Health: Is PNS’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.
- Past Track Record: Has PNS 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 PNS’s historicals for more clarity.
- 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.