Is Atrion Corporation’s (NASDAQ:ATRI) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Atrion Corporation’s (NASDAQ:ATRI) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Atrion has a P/E ratio of 39.94, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $39.94 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Atrion

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Atrion:

P/E of 39.94 = $757.78 ÷ $18.97 (Based on the year to September 2018.)

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 even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Atrion increased earnings per share by 4.1% last year. And earnings per share have improved by 8.1% annually, over the last five years.

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

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (46.9) for companies in the medical equipment industry is higher than Atrion’s P/E.

NasdaqGS:ATRI PE PEG Gauge December 18th 18
NasdaqGS:ATRI PE PEG Gauge December 18th 18

This suggests that market participants think Atrion will underperform other companies in its industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with Atrion, it’s quite possible it could surprise on the upside. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

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

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. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

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.

Is Debt Impacting Atrion’s P/E?

Since Atrion holds net cash of US$65m, it can spend on growth, justifying a higher P/E ratio than otherwise.

The Bottom Line On Atrion’s P/E Ratio

Atrion has a P/E of 39.9. That’s higher than the average in the US market, which is 16.5. Recent earnings growth wasn’t bad. Also positive, the relatively strong balance sheet will allow for investment in growth — and the P/E indicates shareholders that will happen!

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. People often underestimate remarkable growth — so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. We don’t have analyst forecasts, but you could get a better understanding of its growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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.

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.