Should We Worry About Valero Energy Corporation’s (NYSE:VLO) P/E Ratio?

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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Valero Energy Corporation’s (NYSE:VLO), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Valero Energy has a price to earnings ratio of 12.68, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 7.9%.

Check out our latest analysis for Valero Energy

How Do I Calculate Valero Energy’s Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Valero Energy:

P/E of 12.68 = $83.65 ÷ $6.6 (Based on the year to March 2019.)

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. All else being equal, it’s better to pay a low price — but as Warren Buffett said, ‘It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.’

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

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. As you can see below Valero Energy has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the oil and gas industry, which is 12.6.

NYSE:VLO Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 20th 2019
NYSE:VLO Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 20th 2019

Valero Energy’s P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the ‘E’ in the equation. That means unless the share price falls, the P/E will increase in a few years. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others — and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

Valero Energy shrunk earnings per share by 32% over the last year. But EPS is up 4.2% over the last 5 years. And over the longer term (3 years) earnings per share have decreased 3.1% annually. This might lead to low expectations.

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. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

How Does Valero Energy’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Valero Energy’s net debt is 21% of its market cap. That’s enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you’re comparing it to companies without debt.

The Bottom Line On Valero Energy’s P/E Ratio

Valero Energy trades on a P/E ratio of 12.7, which is below the US market average of 17.9. The debt levels are not a major concern, but the lack of EPS growth is likely weighing on sentiment.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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 visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

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 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.