Is Juniper Networks, Inc.’s (NYSE:JNPR) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

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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 Juniper Networks, Inc.’s (NYSE:JNPR) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Juniper Networks has a P/E ratio of 15.16, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $15.16 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

View our latest analysis for Juniper Networks

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 Juniper Networks:

P/E of 15.16 = $24.61 ÷ $1.62 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 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. All else being equal, it’s better to pay a low price — but as Warren Buffett said, ‘It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.’

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the ‘E’ in the equation. 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.

Juniper Networks’s earnings made like a rocket, taking off 160% last year. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 1.1% a year, over 3 years.

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

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see Juniper Networks has a lower P/E than the average (27.1) in the communications industry classification.

NYSE:JNPR Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 3rd 2019
NYSE:JNPR Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 3rd 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Juniper Networks shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet

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 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 Juniper Networks’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

With net cash of US$1.4b, Juniper Networks has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 16% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Bottom Line On Juniper Networks’s P/E Ratio

Juniper Networks’s P/E is 15.2 which is below average (17) in the US market. It grew its EPS nicely over the last year, and the healthy balance sheet implies there is more potential for growth. One might conclude that the market is a bit pessimistic, given the low P/E ratio.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: Juniper Networks may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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.