Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) Still Undervalued?

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The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Starbucks Corporation’s (NASDAQ:SBUX) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Based on the last twelve months, Starbucks’s P/E ratio is 30.81. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 3.2%.

See our latest analysis for Starbucks

How Do You Calculate Starbucks’s P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Starbucks:

P/E of 30.81 = $69.75 ÷ $2.26 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each $1 of company earnings. 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. 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. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

Starbucks shrunk earnings per share by 25% over the last year. But EPS is up 28% over the last 5 years.

How Does Starbucks’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (19) for companies in the hospitality industry is lower than Starbucks’s P/E.

NASDAQGS:SBUX PE PEG Gauge February 13th 19
NASDAQGS:SBUX PE PEG Gauge February 13th 19

That means that the market expects Starbucks will outperform other companies in its industry. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn’t guaranteed. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. 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 Starbucks’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Net debt totals just 4.8% of Starbucks’s market cap. So it doesn’t have as many options as it would with net cash, but its debt would not have much of an impact on its P/E ratio.

The Bottom Line On Starbucks’s P/E Ratio

Starbucks has a P/E of 30.8. That’s higher than the average in the US market, which is 16.9. 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.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. People often underestimate remarkable growth — so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. 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.

You might be able to find a better buy than Starbucks. 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).

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.