This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how Steel Dynamics, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:STLD) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Steel Dynamics has a P/E ratio of 6.18. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $6.18 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.
How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?
The formula for P/E is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Steel Dynamics:
P/E of 6.18 = $28.93 ÷ $4.68 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)
Is A High P/E Ratio Good?
The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing 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 Does Steel Dynamics’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that Steel Dynamics has a lower P/E than the average (10.9) P/E for companies in the metals and mining industry.
Steel Dynamics’s P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry.
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 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.
Steel Dynamics’s earnings per share grew by -5.9% in the last twelve months. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 36% per year over the last five years.
Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. 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 expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.
How Does Steel Dynamics’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Net debt totals 21% of Steel Dynamics’s 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 Steel Dynamics’s P/E Ratio
Steel Dynamics trades on a P/E ratio of 6.2, which is below the US market average of 17.3. The company does have a little debt, and EPS is moving in the right direction. The P/E ratio implies the market is cautious about longer term prospects.
When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Steel Dynamics. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.