Here’s What IEC Electronics Corp.’s (NYSEMKT:IEC) P/E Ratio Is Telling Us

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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 IEC Electronics Corp.’s (NYSEMKT:IEC) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. What is IEC Electronics’s P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 5.74. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $5.74 for every $1 in prior year profit.

See our latest analysis for IEC Electronics

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for IEC Electronics:

P/E of 5.74 = $6.13 ÷ $1.07 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 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

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company’s P/E multiple. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

In the last year, IEC Electronics grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 320% gain was both fast and well deserved. Even better, EPS is up 37% per year over three years. So we’d absolutely expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.

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

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. If you look at the image below, you can see IEC Electronics has a lower P/E than the average (17.4) in the electronic industry classification.

AMEX:IEC Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 5th 2019
AMEX:IEC Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 5th 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that IEC Electronics 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.

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. 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.

IEC Electronics’s Balance Sheet

IEC Electronics has net debt worth 54% of its market capitalization. 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 IEC Electronics’s P/E Ratio

IEC Electronics’s P/E is 5.7 which is below average (17.4) in the US market. The company may have significant debt, but EPS growth was good last year. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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: IEC Electronics 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.