Why Daktronics, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:DAKT) High P/E Ratio Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing

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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Daktronics, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:DAKT) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. What is Daktronics’s P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 54.99. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 1.8%.

See our latest analysis for Daktronics

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 Daktronics:

P/E of 54.99 = $7.43 ÷ $0.14 (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings 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 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

When earnings fall, the ‘E’ decreases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.

Daktronics shrunk earnings per share by 42% over the last year. And EPS is down 24% a year, over the last 5 years. This could justify a pessimistic P/E.

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

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that Daktronics has a higher P/E than the average (20.1) P/E for companies in the electronic industry.

NasdaqGS:DAKT Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 3rd 2019
NasdaqGS:DAKT Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 3rd 2019

That means that the market expects Daktronics will outperform other companies in its industry. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on 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).

Daktronics’s Balance Sheet

Daktronics has net cash of US$71m. This is fairly high at 21% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.

The Bottom Line On Daktronics’s P/E Ratio

Daktronics’s P/E is 55 which suggests the market is more focussed on the future opportunity rather than the current level of earnings. Falling earnings per share is probably keeping traditional value investors away, but the healthy balance sheet means the company retains potential for future growth. If fails to eventuate, the current high P/E could prove to be temporary, as the share price falls.

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 be able to find a better stock than Daktronics. 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.