This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Rawlplug S.A.’s (WSE:RWL) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Based on the last twelve months, Rawlplug’s P/E ratio is 8.84. That means that at current prices, buyers pay PLN8.84 for every PLN1 in trailing yearly profits.
How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Rawlplug:
P/E of 8.84 = PLN8.8 ÷ PLN1.0 (Based on the year to September 2018.)
Is A High P/E Ratio Good?
A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That isn’t necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. 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.
It’s great to see that Rawlplug grew EPS by 18% in the last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 24% per year over the last five years. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio.
How Does Rawlplug’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (8.7) for companies in the machinery industry is roughly the same as Rawlplug’s P/E.
Rawlplug’s P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. Checking factors such as the tenure of the board and management could help you form your own view on if that will happen.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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).
How Does Rawlplug’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Rawlplug has net debt worth 95% of its market capitalization. This is a reasonably significant level of debt — all else being equal you’d expect a much lower P/E than if it had net cash.
The Bottom Line On Rawlplug’s P/E Ratio
Rawlplug has a P/E of 8.8. That’s below the average in the PL market, which is 10.8. The company has a meaningful amount of debt on the balance sheet, but that should not eclipse the solid earnings growth. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified.
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.’ 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.