Is TC PipeLines LP (NYSE:TCP) Attractive At Its Current PE Ratio?

This analysis is intended to introduce important early concepts to people who are starting to invest and want to learn about the link between company’s fundamentals and stock market performance.

TC PipeLines LP (NYSE:TCP) is currently trading at a trailing P/E of 8.8, which is lower than the industry average of 12.3. While TCP might seem like an attractive stock to buy, it is important to understand the assumptions behind the P/E ratio before you make any investment decisions. Today, I will deconstruct the P/E ratio and highlight what you need to be careful of when using the P/E ratio.

See our latest analysis for TC PipeLines

Breaking down the Price-Earnings ratio

NYSE:TCP PE PEG Gauge August 30th 18
NYSE:TCP PE PEG Gauge August 30th 18

P/E is a popular ratio used for relative valuation. By comparing a stock’s price per share to its earnings per share, we are able to see how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

Formula

Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share

P/E Calculation for TCP

Price per share = $32.99

Earnings per share = $3.73

∴ Price-Earnings Ratio = $32.99 ÷ $3.73 = 8.8x

The P/E ratio isn’t a metric you view in isolation and only becomes useful when you compare it against other similar companies. We preferably want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar features to TCP, such as capital structure and profitability. A quick method of creating a peer group is to use companies in the same industry, which is what I will do. Since similar companies should technically have similar P/E ratios, we can very quickly come to some conclusions about the stock if the ratios differ.

Since TCP’s P/E of 8.8 is lower than its industry peers (12.3), it means that investors are paying less for each dollar of TCP’s earnings. This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 25 Oil and Gas companies in US including Energem Resources, Longwei Petroleum Investment Holding and Petrosibir. You can think of it like this: the market is suggesting that TCP is a weaker business than the average comparable company.

A few caveats

Before you jump to conclusions it is important to realise that our assumptions rests on two important assertions. The first is that our peer group actually contains companies that are similar to TCP. If this isn’t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to some other factors. For example, if you accidentally compared higher growth firms with TCP, then TCP’s P/E would naturally be lower since investors would reward its peers’ higher growth with a higher price. Alternatively, if you inadvertently compared less risky firms with TCP, TCP’s P/E would again be lower since investors would reward its peers’ lower risk with a higher price as well. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing TCP to are fairly valued by the market. If this does not hold, there is a possibility that TCP’s P/E is lower because firms in our peer group are being overvalued by the market.

NYSE:TCP Future Profit August 30th 18
NYSE:TCP Future Profit August 30th 18

What this means for you:

You may have already conducted fundamental analysis on the stock as a shareholder, so its current undervaluation could signal a good buying opportunity to increase your exposure to TCP. Now that you understand the ins and outs of the PE metric, you should know to bear in mind its limitations before you make an investment decision. Remember that basing your investment decision off one metric alone is certainly not sufficient. There are many things I have not taken into account in this article and the PE ratio is very one-dimensional. If you have not done so already, I urge you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for TCP’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for TCP’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has TCP been consistently performing well irrespective of the ups and downs in the market? Go into more detail in the past performance analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of TCP’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

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.