# Does Tomson Group Limited’s (HKG:258) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Tomson Group Limited’s (HKG:258) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Tomson Group has a price to earnings ratio of 5.46, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying HK\$5.46 for every HK\$1 in prior year profit.

### How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Tomson Group:

P/E of 5.46 = HK\$2.88 ÷ HK\$0.53 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

### Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That isn’t a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business’s prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

### 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. 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.

Tomson Group shrunk earnings per share by 20% over the last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 36% per year over the last five years.

### How Does Tomson Group’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that Tomson Group has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the real estate industry average (5.8).

Its P/E ratio suggests that Tomson Group shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. Further research into factors such asmanagement tenure, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.

### 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. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. 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 Tomson Group’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Tomson Group has net cash of HK\$2.5b. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.

### The Verdict On Tomson Group’s P/E Ratio

Tomson Group trades on a P/E ratio of 5.5, which is below the HK market average of 10.9. The recent drop in earnings per share would make investors cautious, the healthy balance sheet means the company retains potential for future growth. If that occurs, the current low P/E could prove to be temporary.

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.’ Although we don’t have analyst forecasts, you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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.

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.