To the annoyance of some shareholders, IGG (HKG:799) shares are down a considerable 34% in the last month. That drop has capped off a tough year for shareholders, with the share price down 46% in that time.
Assuming nothing else has changed, a lower share price makes a stock more attractive to potential buyers. In the long term, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, but in the short term prices bounce around in response to short term factors (which are not always obvious). So, on certain occasions, long term focussed investors try to take advantage of pessimistic expectations to buy shares at a better price. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E ratio means that investors have a high expectation about future growth, while a low P/E ratio means they have low expectations about future growth.
Does IGG Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
IGG’s P/E of 5.39 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. If you look at the image below, you can see IGG has a lower P/E than the average (14.9) in the entertainment industry classification.
This suggests that market participants think IGG will underperform other companies in its industry.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. 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.
IGG saw earnings per share decrease by 5.5% last year. But EPS is up 28% over the last 5 years.
Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.
While growth expenditure doesn’t always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.
How Does IGG’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
With net cash of US$271m, IGG has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 31% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.
The Verdict On IGG’s P/E Ratio
IGG has a P/E of 5.4. That’s below the average in the HK market, which is 9.9. The recent drop in earnings per share would make investors cautious, the relatively strong balance sheet will allow the company time to invest in growth. If it achieves that, then there’s real potential that the low P/E could eventually indicate undervaluation. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become more pessimistic about IGG over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 8.1 back then to 5.4 today. For those who prefer invest in growth, this stock apparently offers limited promise, but the deep value investors may find the pessimism around this stock enticing.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.