Is Perseus SA’s (ATH:PERS) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

Today, we’ll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We’ll show how you can use Perseus SA’s (ATH:PERS) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Perseus has a P/E ratio of 7.26, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 14%.

View our latest analysis for Perseus

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Perseus:

P/E of 7.26 = €1.24 ÷ €0.17 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 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 Does Perseus’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. If you look at the image below, you can see Perseus has a lower P/E than the average (15.7) in the food industry classification.

ATSE:PERS Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 29th 2019
ATSE:PERS Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 29th 2019

Perseus’s P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company’s P/E multiple. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

In the last year, Perseus grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 59% gain was both fast and well deserved. The cherry on top is that the five year growth rate was an impressive 28% per year. With that kind of growth rate we would generally expect a high P/E ratio.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet

It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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).

So What Does Perseus’s Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Perseus’s net debt is 52% of its market cap. This is enough debt that you’d have to make some adjustments before using the P/E ratio to compare it to a company with net cash.

The Bottom Line On Perseus’s P/E Ratio

Perseus trades on a P/E ratio of 7.3, which is below the GR market average of 17.6. While the EPS growth last year was strong, the significant debt levels reduce the number of options available to management. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. Although we don’t have analyst forecasts, you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

You might be able to find a better buy than Perseus. 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).

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 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. Thank you for reading.