Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll show how you can use Castleton Technology plc's (LON:CTP) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Castleton Technology has a P/E ratio of 14.64, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying £14.64 for every £1 in prior year profit.
How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Castleton Technology:
P/E of 14.64 = £0.73 ÷ £0.05 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)
Is A High P/E Ratio Good?
A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That isn't necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.
How Does Castleton Technology'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 Castleton Technology has a lower P/E than the average (25.9) P/E for companies in the it industry.
Castleton Technology's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.
Castleton Technology's earnings per share fell by 2.1% in the last twelve months. But EPS is up 89% over the last 3 years.
Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.
Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.
Is Debt Impacting Castleton Technology's P/E?
Castleton Technology has net debt worth just 6.2% of its market capitalization. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.
The Verdict On Castleton Technology's P/E Ratio
Castleton Technology's P/E is 14.6 which is below average (16.9) in the GB market. Since it only carries a modest debt load, it's likely the low expectations implied by the P/E ratio arise from the lack of recent earnings growth.
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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Castleton Technology. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
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 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. Thank you for reading.