U.S. markets closed
  • S&P 500

    3,768.25
    -27.29 (-0.72%)
     
  • Dow 30

    30,814.26
    -177.26 (-0.57%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    12,998.50
    -114.14 (-0.87%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    2,123.20
    -32.15 (-1.49%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    52.04
    -1.53 (-2.86%)
     
  • Gold

    1,827.70
    -23.70 (-1.28%)
     
  • Silver

    24.83
    -0.97 (-3.77%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.2085
    -0.0071 (-0.58%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.0970
    -0.0320 (-2.83%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3583
    -0.0108 (-0.79%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    103.8000
    -0.0160 (-0.02%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    36,209.59
    +428.43 (+1.20%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    701.93
    -33.21 (-4.52%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    6,735.71
    -66.25 (-0.97%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    28,519.18
    -179.08 (-0.62%)
     

Is ACCO Brands Corporation's (NYSE:ACCO) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

Simply Wall St

Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll look at ACCO Brands Corporation's (NYSE:ACCO) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. ACCO Brands has a P/E ratio of 9.49, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying $9.49 for every $1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for ACCO Brands

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for ACCO Brands:

P/E of 9.49 = $9.25 ÷ $0.97 (Based on the year to September 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. 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.

Does ACCO Brands Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

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 ACCO Brands has a lower P/E than the average (26.4) in the commercial services industry classification.

NYSE:ACCO Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 10th 2019
NYSE:ACCO Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 10th 2019

This suggests that market participants think ACCO Brands will underperform other companies in its industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with ACCO Brands, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or 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.

ACCO Brands saw earnings per share decrease by 29% last year. But EPS is up 2.5% over the last 5 years. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 4.9% per year over the last three years. This could justify a low P/E.

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

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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).

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 ACCO Brands's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

ACCO Brands has net debt worth 98% of its market capitalization. This is a reasonably significant level of debt -- all else being equal you'd expect a much lower P/E than if it had net cash.

The Verdict On ACCO Brands's P/E Ratio

ACCO Brands trades on a P/E ratio of 9.5, which is below the US market average of 18.5. When you consider that the company has significant debt, and didn't grow EPS last year, it isn't surprising that the market has muted expectations.

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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

You might be able to find a better buy than ACCO Brands. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.

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.