Is RBC Bearings Incorporated’s (NASDAQ:ROLL) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how RBC Bearings Incorporated’s (NASDAQ:ROLL) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. What is RBC Bearings’s P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 33.17. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 3.0%.

View our latest analysis for RBC Bearings

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for RBC Bearings:

P/E of 33.17 = $137.42 ÷ $4.14 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. 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. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

RBC Bearings increased earnings per share by an impressive 21% over the last twelve months. And earnings per share have improved by 12% annually, over the last five years. So one might expect an above average P/E ratio.

Does RBC Bearings Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. As you can see below, RBC Bearings has a higher P/E than the average company (21.7) in the machinery industry.

NasdaqGS:ROLL Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 13th 2019
NasdaqGS:ROLL Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 13th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that RBC Bearings shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. 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.

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

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. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

While growth expenditure doesn’t always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

Is Debt Impacting RBC Bearings’s P/E?

RBC Bearings’s net debt is 1.0% of its market cap. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Verdict On RBC Bearings’s P/E Ratio

RBC Bearings has a P/E of 33.2. That’s higher than the average in the US market, which is 18. Its debt levels do not imperil its balance sheet and it is growing EPS strongly. So on this analysis it seems reasonable that its P/E ratio is above average.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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.

You might be able to find a better buy than RBC Bearings. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.