Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD) Still Undervalued?

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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 show how you can use Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.’s (NYSE:APD) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Air Products and Chemicals has a P/E ratio of 22.11, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $22.11 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Air Products and Chemicals

How Do I Calculate Air Products and Chemicals’s Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Air Products and Chemicals:

P/E of 22.11 = $165.9 ÷ $7.5 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High P/E 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. 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

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. 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. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

It’s nice to see that Air Products and Chemicals grew EPS by a stonking 58% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 6.1% annually, over the last five years. I’d therefore be a little surprised if its P/E ratio was not relatively high.

How Does Air Products and Chemicals’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (19.3) for companies in the chemicals industry is lower than Air Products and Chemicals’s P/E.

NYSE:APD PE PEG Gauge February 11th 19
NYSE:APD PE PEG Gauge February 11th 19

That means that the market expects Air Products and Chemicals will outperform other companies in its industry. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t guarantee future growth. 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

It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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 Air Products and Chemicals’s P/E?

Air Products and Chemicals’s net debt is 2.2% of its market cap. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Verdict On Air Products and Chemicals’s P/E Ratio

Air Products and Chemicals trades on a P/E ratio of 22.1, which is above the US market average of 16.8. Its debt levels do not imperil its balance sheet and it has already proven it can grow. So it is not surprising the market is probably extrapolating recent growth well into the future, reflected in the relatively high P/E ratio.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

You might be able to find a better buy than Air Products and Chemicals. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.