What Does Air China Limited’s (HKG:753) P/E Ratio Tell You?

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The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll show how you can use Air China Limited’s (HKG:753) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Air China has a price to earnings ratio of 14.94, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 6.7%.

How Do You Calculate Air China’s P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price (in reporting currency) ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Air China:

P/E of 14.94 = CN¥6.46 (Note: this is the share price in the reporting currency, namely, CNY ) ÷ CN¥0.43 (Based on the year to September 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each HK\$1 of company earnings. 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

When earnings fall, the ‘E’ decreases, over time. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others — and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

Air China shrunk earnings per share by 28% over the last year. But EPS is up 13% over the last 5 years. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 3.3% per year over the last three years. This growth rate might warrant a low P/E ratio. This could justify a low P/E.

How Does Air China’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. As you can see below, Air China has a higher P/E than the average company (11.4) in the airlines industry.

That means that the market expects Air China will outperform other companies in its industry. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

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

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in 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.

Is Debt Impacting Air China’s P/E?

Air China’s net debt is 81% of its market cap. This is enough debt that you’d have to make some adjustments before using the P/E ratio to compare it to a company with net cash.

The Verdict On Air China’s P/E Ratio

Air China trades on a P/E ratio of 14.9, which is above the HK market average of 10.6. With significant debt and no EPS growth last year, shareholders are betting on an improvement in earnings from the company.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. So this free visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

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.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.