Appreciate Group (LON:APP) shareholders are no doubt pleased to see that the share price has had a great month, posting a 33% gain, recovering from prior weakness. But shareholders may not all be feeling jubilant, since the share price is still down 19% in the last year.
Assuming no other changes, a sharply higher share price makes a stock less attractive to potential buyers. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that deep value investors might steer clear when expectations of a company are too high. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.
How Does Appreciate Group's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
Appreciate Group has a P/E ratio of 12.62. As you can see below Appreciate Group has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the consumer finance industry, which is 12.4.
That indicates that the market expects Appreciate Group will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. Further research into factors such as insider buying and selling, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
If earnings fall then in the future the 'E' will be lower. That means unless the share price falls, the P/E will increase in a few years. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.
Appreciate Group saw earnings per share decrease by 14% last year. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 3.3%. And EPS is down 4.2% a year, over the last 3 years. This could justify a low P/E.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.
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.
Is Debt Impacting Appreciate Group's P/E?
Since Appreciate Group holds net cash of UK£7.7m, it can spend on growth, justifying a higher P/E ratio than otherwise.
The Verdict On Appreciate Group's P/E Ratio
Appreciate Group has a P/E of 12.6. That's below the average in the GB market, which is 18.3. Falling earnings per share are likely to be keeping potential buyers away, the relatively strong balance sheet will allow the company time to invest in growth. If it achieves that, then there's real potential that the low P/E could eventually indicate undervaluation. What is very clear is that the market has become more optimistic about Appreciate Group over the last month, with the P/E ratio rising from 9.5 back then to 12.6 today. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might mean it's time to put the stock on a watchlist, or research it. But the contrarian may see it as a missed opportunity.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.
But note: Appreciate Group 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).
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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