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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 Terex Corporation’s (NYSE:TEX) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Terex has a P/E ratio of 20.76, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $20.76 for every $1 in prior year profit.
How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Terex:
P/E of 20.76 = $28.33 ÷ $1.36 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)
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 isn’t a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business’s prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. 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.
Terex saw earnings per share decrease by 38% last year. But EPS is up 11% over the last 3 years. And over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have decreased 7.4% annually. This could justify a pessimistic P/E.
Does Terex Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (20.4) for companies in the machinery industry is roughly the same as Terex’s P/E.
Its P/E ratio suggests that Terex shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. 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
It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. 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.
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).
Terex’s Balance Sheet
Terex’s net debt is 58% 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 Bottom Line On Terex’s P/E Ratio
Terex’s P/E is 20.8 which is above average (17.7) in the US market. With meaningful debt and a lack of recent earnings growth, the market has high expectations that the business will earn more in the future.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Terex. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
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.