# Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Eckoh plc (LON:ECK) Still Undervalued?

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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 look at Eckoh plc’s (LON:ECK) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Eckoh has a P/E ratio of 49.83, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay £49.83 for every £1 in trailing yearly profits.

### How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Eckoh:

P/E of 49.83 = £0.34 ÷ £0.0069 (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

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

Eckoh shrunk earnings per share by 32% over the last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 30% per year over the last five years.

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

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. As you can see below, Eckoh has a higher P/E than the average company (25.1) in the it industry.

That means that the market expects Eckoh will outperform other companies in its industry. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn’t guaranteed. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

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

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future), by taking on debt (or spending its remaining cash).

Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).

### Eckoh’s Balance Sheet

The extra options and safety that comes with Eckoh’s UK£3.4m net cash position means that it deserves a higher P/E than it would if it had a lot of net debt.

### The Bottom Line On Eckoh’s P/E Ratio

Eckoh has a P/E of 49.8. That’s significantly higher than the average in the GB market, which is 15.7. The recent drop in earnings per share would make some investors cautious, but the relatively strong balance sheet will allow the company time to invest in growth. Clearly, the high P/E indicates shareholders think it will!

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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.

You might be able to find a better buy than Eckoh. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.