Jacobson Pharma (HKG:2633) shares have had a really impressive month, gaining 36%, after some slippage. The bad news is that even after that recovery shareholders are still underwater by about 8.3% for the full year.
All else being equal, a sharp share price increase should make a stock less attractive to potential investors. 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 some would prefer to hold off buying when there is a lot of optimism towards a stock. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors’ expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.
Does Jacobson Pharma Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 11.02 that sentiment around Jacobson Pharma isn’t particularly high. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (12.1) for companies in the pharmaceuticals industry is higher than Jacobson Pharma’s P/E.
Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Jacobson Pharma shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.
Most would be impressed by Jacobson Pharma earnings growth of 16% in the last year. And it has improved its earnings per share by 5.3% per year over the last three years. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio. But earnings per share are down 1.8% per year over the last five years.
Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet
The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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 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 Jacobson Pharma’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Jacobson Pharma’s net debt is 22% of its market cap. This could bring some additional risk, and reduce the number of investment options for management; worth remembering if you compare its P/E to businesses without debt.
The Verdict On Jacobson Pharma’s P/E Ratio
Jacobson Pharma has a P/E of 11.0. That’s around the same as the average in the HK market, which is 10.5. With only modest debt levels, and strong earnings growth, the market seems to doubt that the growth can be maintained. Because analysts are predicting more growth in the future, one might have expected to see a higher P/E ratio. You can take a closer look at the fundamentals, here. What is very clear is that the market has become more optimistic about Jacobson Pharma over the last month, with the P/E ratio rising from 8.1 back then to 11.0 today. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might mean it’s time to put the stock on a watchlist, or research it. But the contrarian may see it as a missed opportunity.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, ‘In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine. 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 Jacobson Pharma. 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).
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