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Is Coloplast A/S's (CPH:COLO B) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

Simply Wall St

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Coloplast A/S's (CPH:COLO B), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Based on the last twelve months, Coloplast's P/E ratio is 44.73. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying DKK44.73 for every DKK1 in prior year profit.

See our latest analysis for Coloplast

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

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Coloplast:

P/E of 44.73 = DKK816.00 ÷ DKK18.24 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing 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'.

Does Coloplast Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. The image below shows that Coloplast has a higher P/E than the average (39.6) P/E for companies in the medical equipment industry.

CPSE:COLO B Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 7th 2020
CPSE:COLO B Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 7th 2020

That means that the market expects Coloplast will outperform other companies in its industry. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn't guaranteed. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

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. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Coloplast had pretty flat EPS growth in the last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 10.0% per year over the last five years.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

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 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.

So What Does Coloplast's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Net debt totals just 0.2% of Coloplast's market cap. So it doesn't have as many options as it would with net cash, but its debt would not have much of an impact on its P/E ratio.

The Verdict On Coloplast's P/E Ratio

Coloplast's P/E is 44.7 which is above average (15.5) in its market. Given the debt is only modest, and earnings are already moving in the right direction, it's not surprising that the market expects continued improvement.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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.

You might be able to find a better buy than Coloplast. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.