To the annoyance of some shareholders, CSE Global (SGX:544) shares are down a considerable 32% in the last month. That drop has capped off a tough year for shareholders, with the share price down 30% in that time.
All else being equal, a share price drop should make a stock more 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. So, on certain occasions, long term focussed investors try to take advantage of pessimistic expectations to buy shares at a better price. 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 CSE Global Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 7.95 that sentiment around CSE Global isn't particularly high. If you look at the image below, you can see CSE Global has a lower P/E than the average (14.6) in the it industry classification.
This suggests that market participants think CSE Global will underperform other companies in its 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
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.
Most would be impressed by CSE Global earnings growth of 22% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 3 years is 5.2%. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 5.8% a year, over 5 years.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).
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.
CSE Global's Balance Sheet
CSE Global's net debt is 21% of its market cap. It would probably deserve a higher P/E ratio if it was net cash, since it would have more options for growth.
The Verdict On CSE Global's P/E Ratio
CSE Global's P/E is 8.0 which is below average (11.3) in the SG market. The company hasn't stretched its balance sheet, and earnings growth was good last year. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified. Because analysts are predicting more growth in the future, one might have expected to see a higher P/E ratio. You can take a closer look at the fundamentals, here. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become more pessimistic about CSE Global over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 11.6 back then to 8.0 today. For those who prefer invest in growth, this stock apparently offers limited promise, but the deep value investors may find the pessimism around this stock enticing.
When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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.
You might be able to find a better buy than CSE Global. 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 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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