Read This Before You Buy China Renewable Energy Investment Limited (HKG:987) Because Of Its P/E Ratio

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Today, we’ll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. To keep it practical, we’ll show how China Renewable Energy Investment Limited’s (HKG:987) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. China Renewable Energy Investment has a price to earnings ratio of 7.76, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying HK\$7.76 for every HK\$1 in prior year profit.

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for China Renewable Energy Investment:

P/E of 7.76 = HK\$0.20 ÷ HK\$0.025 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 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 is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. If earnings are growing quickly, then the ‘E’ in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

China Renewable Energy Investment’s earnings per share were pretty steady over the last year. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 16%.

How Does China Renewable Energy Investment’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (9.1) for companies in the renewable energy industry is higher than China Renewable Energy Investment’s P/E.

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that China Renewable Energy Investment 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. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

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. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).

China Renewable Energy Investment’s Balance Sheet

China Renewable Energy Investment has net debt worth a very significant 101% of its market capitalization. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you must keep in mind that these debt levels would usually warrant a relatively low P/E.

The Verdict On China Renewable Energy Investment’s P/E Ratio

China Renewable Energy Investment has a P/E of 7.8. That’s below the average in the HK market, which is 10.9. When you consider that the company has significant debt, and didn’t grow EPS last year, it isn’t surprising that the market has muted expectations.

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.’ We don’t have analyst forecasts, but shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But note: China Renewable Energy Investment may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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.