Should We Worry About HAL Trust’s (AMS:HAL) P/E Ratio?

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how HAL Trust’s (AMS:HAL) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Based on the last twelve months, HAL Trust’s P/E ratio is 50.44. That means that at current prices, buyers pay €50.44 for every €1 in trailing yearly profits.

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How Do I Calculate HAL Trust’s Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for HAL Trust:

P/E of 50.44 = €132 ÷ €2.62 (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 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

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the ‘E’ in the equation. That means unless the share price falls, the P/E will increase in a few years. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others — and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

HAL Trust shrunk earnings per share by 69% over the last year. And EPS is down 1.0% a year, over the last 5 years. This growth rate might warrant a below average P/E ratio.

How Does HAL Trust’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, HAL Trust has a much higher P/E than the average company (10.5) in the diversified financial industry.

ENXTAM:HAL PE PEG Gauge January 15th 19
ENXTAM:HAL PE PEG Gauge January 15th 19

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that HAL Trust shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn’t guaranteed. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

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

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. 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.

Is Debt Impacting HAL Trust’s P/E?

Net debt totals just 8.0% of HAL Trust’s market cap. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.

The Verdict On HAL Trust’s P/E Ratio

HAL Trust trades on a P/E ratio of 50.4, which is multiples above the NL market average of 14.8. With modest debt but no EPS growth in the last year, it’s fair to say the P/E implies some optimism about future earnings, from the market.

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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: HAL Trust 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).

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.