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Is Bouygues SA's (EPA:EN) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at Bouygues SA's (EPA:EN) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Bouygues has a P/E ratio of 9.19. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 11%.

See our latest analysis for Bouygues

How Do I Calculate Bouygues's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Bouygues:

P/E of 9.19 = €32.78 ÷ €3.57 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each €1 of company 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

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. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

Bouygues increased earnings per share by an impressive 18% over the last twelve months. And it has improved its earnings per share by 44% per year over the last three years. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio.

How Does Bouygues's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Bouygues has a lower P/E than the average (13.9) P/E for companies in the construction industry.

ENXTPA:EN Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 8th 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Bouygues shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. 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.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. 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.

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

Bouygues's Balance Sheet

Net debt is 30% of Bouygues's market cap. While it's worth keeping this in mind, it isn't a worry.

The Bottom Line On Bouygues's P/E Ratio

Bouygues's P/E is 9.2 which is below average (16.5) in the FR market. The company hasn't stretched its balance sheet, and earnings growth was good last year. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, 'In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.' 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 find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E 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.