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Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is ComfortDelGro Corporation Limited (SGX:C52) Still Undervalued?

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to ComfortDelGro Corporation Limited's (SGX:C52), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, ComfortDelGro has a P/E ratio of 17.27. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 5.8%.

Check out our latest analysis for ComfortDelGro

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for ComfortDelGro:

P/E of 17.27 = SGD2.46 ÷ SGD0.14 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

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

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (16.4) for companies in the transportation industry is roughly the same as ComfortDelGro's P/E.

SGX:C52 Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 25th 2019

ComfortDelGro's P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. I would further inform my view by checking insider buying and selling., among other things.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

If earnings fall then in the future the 'E' will be lower. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others -- and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

ComfortDelGro increased earnings per share by 9.7% last year. And earnings per share have improved by 1.9% annually, over the last five years.

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. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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 ComfortDelGro's P/E?

Net debt totals just 1.6% of ComfortDelGro's market cap. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Bottom Line On ComfortDelGro's P/E Ratio

ComfortDelGro has a P/E of 17.3. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 13.5. With modest debt relative to its size, and modest earnings growth, the market is likely expecting sustained long-term growth, if not a near-term improvement.

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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

But note: ComfortDelGro may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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 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. Thank you for reading.