Here’s How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand Tata Motors Limited (NSE:TATAMOTORS)

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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 Tata Motors Limited’s (NSE:TATAMOTORS) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Tata Motors has a price to earnings ratio of 6.32, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 16%.

View our latest analysis for Tata Motors

How Do I Calculate Tata Motors’s Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Tata Motors:

P/E of 6.32 = ₹167.4 ÷ ₹26.47 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing earnings. All else being equal, it’s better to pay a low price — but as Warren Buffett said, ‘It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.’

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

If earnings fall then in the future the ‘E’ will be lower. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.

Tata Motors increased earnings per share by an impressive 21% over the last twelve months. In contrast, EPS has decreased by 9.5%, annually, over 5 years.

Does Tata Motors Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

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 (16.6) for companies in the auto industry is higher than Tata Motors’s P/E.

NSEI:TATAMOTORS Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 15th 2019
NSEI:TATAMOTORS Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 15th 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Tata Motors shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Since the market seems unimpressed with Tata Motors, it’s quite possible it could surprise on the upside. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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.

Tata Motors’s Balance Sheet

Tata Motors’s net debt is 87% 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 Tata Motors’s P/E Ratio

Tata Motors has a P/E of 6.3. That’s below the average in the IN market, which is 15.9. While the EPS growth last year was strong, the significant debt levels reduce the number of options available to management. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

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.