Does Portland General Electric Company’s (NYSE:POR) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

Today, we’ll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We’ll look at Portland General Electric Company’s (NYSE:POR) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Based on the last twelve months, Portland General Electric’s P/E ratio is 21.73. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $21.73 for every $1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for Portland General Electric

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Portland General Electric:

P/E of 21.73 = $51.63 ÷ $2.38 (Based on the year to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings 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

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. If earnings are growing quickly, then the ‘E’ in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

It’s great to see that Portland General Electric grew EPS by 13% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 12%. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio.

How Does Portland General Electric’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 (22.1) for companies in the electric utilities industry is roughly the same as Portland General Electric’s P/E.

NYSE:POR Price Estimation Relative to Market, April 13th 2019
NYSE:POR Price Estimation Relative to Market, April 13th 2019

Portland General Electric’s P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. So if Portland General Electric actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. I inform my view byby checking management tenure and remuneration, among other things.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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.

So What Does Portland General Electric’s Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Net debt totals 52% of Portland General Electric’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 Verdict On Portland General Electric’s P/E Ratio

Portland General Electric trades on a P/E ratio of 21.7, which is above the US market average of 18.1. It has already proven it can grow earnings, but the debt levels mean it faces some risks. The relatively high P/E ratio suggests shareholders think growth will continue.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. People often underestimate remarkable growth — so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Portland General Electric. 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.