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What Is Asbury Automotive Group's (NYSE:ABG) P/E Ratio After Its Share Price Rocketed?

Simply Wall St

Those holding Asbury Automotive Group (NYSE:ABG) shares must be pleased that the share price has rebounded 36% in the last thirty days. But unfortunately, the stock is still down by 29% over a quarter. The bad news is that even after that recovery shareholders are still underwater by about 9.1% for the full year.

Assuming no other changes, a sharply higher share price makes a stock less attractive to potential buyers. In the long term, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, but in the short term prices bounce around in response to short term factors (which are not always obvious). The implication here is that deep value investors might steer clear when expectations of a company are too high. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors' expectations of a business 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.

View our latest analysis for Asbury Automotive Group

Does Asbury Automotive Group Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

Asbury Automotive Group's P/E of 8.27 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. The image below shows that Asbury Automotive Group has a lower P/E than the average (10.8) P/E for companies in the specialty retail industry.

NYSE:ABG Price Estimation Relative to Market May 21st 2020

This suggests that market participants think Asbury Automotive Group will underperform other companies in its industry. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Asbury Automotive Group had pretty flat EPS growth in the last year. But EPS is up 16% over the last 5 years.

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. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

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).

Is Debt Impacting Asbury Automotive Group's P/E?

Asbury Automotive Group has net debt worth a very significant 124% of its market capitalization. This is a relatively high level of debt, so the stock probably deserves a relatively low P/E ratio. Keep that in mind when comparing it to other companies.

The Verdict On Asbury Automotive Group's P/E Ratio

Asbury Automotive Group's P/E is 8.3 which is below average (14.8) in the US market. The P/E reflects market pessimism that probably arises from the lack of recent EPS growth, paired with significant leverage. What is very clear is that the market has become less pessimistic about Asbury Automotive Group over the last month, with the P/E ratio rising from 6.1 back then to 8.3 today. For those who like to invest in turnarounds, that might mean it's time to put the stock on a watchlist, or research it. But others might consider the opportunity to have passed.

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

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Asbury Automotive Group. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.