Read This Before You Buy Autohellas S.A. (ATH:OTOEL) Because Of Its P/E Ratio

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll show how you can use Autohellas S.A.’s (ATH:OTOEL) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Autohellas has a price to earnings ratio of 8.04, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay €8.04 for every €1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Autohellas

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Autohellas:

P/E of 8.04 = €25.3 ÷ €3.15 (Based on the year to December 2018.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing 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.

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. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. 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.

It’s great to see that Autohellas grew EPS by 21% in the last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 42% per year over the last five years. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio.

How Does Autohellas’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 Autohellas has a lower P/E than the average (11.4) in the transportation industry classification.

ATSE:OTOEL Price Estimation Relative to Market, April 22nd 2019
ATSE:OTOEL Price Estimation Relative to Market, April 22nd 2019

This suggests that market participants think Autohellas will underperform other companies in its industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with Autohellas, it’s quite possible it could surprise on the upside. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. 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 Autohellas’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Autohellas’s net debt is considerable, at 117% of its market cap. This is a relatively high level of debt, so the stock probably deserves a relatively low P/E ratio. Keep that in mind when comparing it to other companies.

The Bottom Line On Autohellas’s P/E Ratio

Autohellas trades on a P/E ratio of 8, which is below the GR market average of 14.3. The company has a meaningful amount of debt on the balance sheet, but that should not eclipse the solid earnings growth. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified.

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. We don’t have analyst forecasts, but shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But note: Autohellas may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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 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.