This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how Ferro Corporation's (NYSE:FOE) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Ferro has a price to earnings ratio of 24.84, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying $24.84 for every $1 in prior year profit.
How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Ferro:
P/E of 24.84 = $14.55 ÷ $0.59 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 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 isn't necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.
How Does Ferro's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (20.2) for companies in the chemicals industry is lower than Ferro's P/E.
Ferro's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
If earnings fall then in the future the 'E' will be lower. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.
Ferro saw earnings per share decrease by 18% last year. And EPS is down 8.3% a year, over the last 5 years. This growth rate might warrant a below average P/E ratio.
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. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.
Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).
So What Does Ferro's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Net debt totals 68% of Ferro's market cap. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you should absolutely keep in mind it has significant borrowings.
The Bottom Line On Ferro's P/E Ratio
Ferro's P/E is 24.8 which is above average (18.4) in its market. With relatively high debt, and no earnings per share growth over twelve months, it's safe to say the market believes the company will improve its earnings growth in the future.
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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.
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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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. Thank you for reading.
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