Is NuVasive, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:NUVA) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

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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 apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to NuVasive, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:NUVA), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Based on the last twelve months, NuVasive’s P/E ratio is 60.87. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $60.87 for every $1 in prior year profit.

Check out our latest analysis for NuVasive

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for NuVasive:

P/E of 60.87 = $57.92 ÷ $0.95 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

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 is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

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. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

NuVasive increased earnings per share by an impressive 16% over the last twelve months. And it has improved its earnings per share by 14% per year over the last three years. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.

Does NuVasive Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. As you can see below, NuVasive has a higher P/E than the average company (40.8) in the medical equipment industry.

NasdaqGS:NUVA Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 16th 2019
NasdaqGS:NUVA Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 16th 2019

NuVasive’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn’t guaranteed. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

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 NuVasive’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

NuVasive has net debt worth 17% of its market capitalization. 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 NuVasive’s P/E Ratio

With a P/E ratio of 60.9, NuVasive is expected to grow earnings very strongly in the years to come. Its debt levels do not imperil its balance sheet and it is growing EPS strongly. So on this analysis it seems reasonable that its P/E ratio is above average.

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 NuVasive. 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 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.