Should You Be Tempted To Sell NWS Holdings Limited (HKG:659) 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 look at NWS Holdings Limited’s (HKG:659) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Based on the last twelve months, NWS Holdings’s P/E ratio is 11.96. That means that at current prices, buyers pay HK$11.96 for every HK$1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for NWS Holdings

How Do You Calculate NWS Holdings’s P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for NWS Holdings:

P/E of 11.96 = HK$18 ÷ HK$1.5 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. 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. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

NWS Holdings saw earnings per share improve by -6.0% last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 7.0% per year over the last five years.

How Does NWS Holdings’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (8.3) for companies in the industrials industry is lower than NWS Holdings’s P/E.

SEHK:659 Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 6th 2019
SEHK:659 Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 6th 2019

NWS Holdings’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn’t guaranteed. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

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

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

How Does NWS Holdings’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

NWS Holdings’s net debt is 7.8% of its market cap. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Bottom Line On NWS Holdings’s P/E Ratio

NWS Holdings has a P/E of 12. That’s higher than the average in the HK market, which is 10.9. Given the debt is only modest, and earnings are already moving in the right direction, it’s not surprising that the market expects continued improvement.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. People often underestimate remarkable growth — so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

You might be able to find a better buy than NWS Holdings. 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.