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Is Cango Inc.'s (NYSE:CANG) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

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Of late the Cango (NYSE:CANG) share price has softened like an ice cream in the sun, melting a full . But plenty of shareholders will still be smiling, given that the stock is up 48% over the last quarter. Looking back over the last year, the stock has been a solid performer, with a gain of 16%.

All else being equal, a sharp share price increase should make a stock less attractive to potential investors. 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. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Cango

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

Cango's P/E of 25.03 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. The image below shows that Cango has a lower P/E than the average (33.5) P/E for companies in the online retail industry.

NYSE:CANG Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 23rd 2020
NYSE:CANG Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 23rd 2020

Cango's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with Cango, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. 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

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Cango's 135% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. The cherry on top is that the five year growth rate was an impressive 17% per year. So I'd be surprised if the P/E ratio was not above average.

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

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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.

Cango's Balance Sheet

Since Cango holds net cash of CN¥236m, it can spend on growth, justifying a higher P/E ratio than otherwise.

The Verdict On Cango's P/E Ratio

Cango trades on a P/E ratio of 25.0, which is above its market average of 18.8. The excess cash it carries is the gravy on top its fast EPS growth. So based on this analysis we'd expect Cango to have a high P/E ratio. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become less optimistic about Cango over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 25.0 back then to 25.0 today. For those who don't like to trade against momentum, that could be a warning sign, but a contrarian investor might want to take a closer look.

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 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 Cango. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.