To the annoyance of some shareholders, Civmec (SGX:P9D) shares are down a considerable 36% in the last month. That drop has capped off a tough year for shareholders, with the share price down 38% in that time.
Assuming nothing else has changed, a lower share price makes a stock more 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 long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E ratio means that investors have a high expectation about future growth, while a low P/E ratio means they have low expectations about future growth.
Does Civmec Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
Civmec's P/E of 17.82 indicates some degree of optimism towards the stock. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (11.3) for companies in the construction industry is lower than Civmec's P/E.
That means that the market expects Civmec will outperform other companies in its industry. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
When earnings fall, the 'E' decreases, over time. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.
Civmec saw earnings per share decrease by 49% last year. And EPS is down 25% a year, over the last 5 years. This might lead to muted expectations.
Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet
It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. 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 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.
So What Does Civmec's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Civmec's net debt equates to 48% of its market capitalization. While it's worth keeping this in mind, it isn't a worry.
The Bottom Line On Civmec's P/E Ratio
Civmec trades on a P/E ratio of 17.8, which is above its market average of 10.0. With a bit of debt, but a lack of recent growth, it's safe to say the market is expecting improved profit performance from the company, in the next few years. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become significantly less optimistic about Civmec over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 27.8 back then to 17.8 today. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might be a bad sign, but for a contrarian, it may signal opportunity.
When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. Although we don't have analyst forecasts shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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