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Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is SP Group A/S (CPH:SPG) 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). To keep it practical, we'll show how SP Group A/S's (CPH:SPG) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. SP Group has a P/E ratio of 17.26, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying DKK17.26 for every DKK1 in prior year profit.

See our latest analysis for SP Group

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for SP Group:

P/E of 17.26 = DKK243.00 ÷ DKK14.08 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each DKK1 of company 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 SP Group 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 SP Group has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the chemicals industry average (16.6).

CPSE:SPG Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 29th 2020

Its P/E ratio suggests that SP Group shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. So if SP Group actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Checking factors such as director buying and selling. could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. 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. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Most would be impressed by SP Group earnings growth of 13% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 29%. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.

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

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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.

How Does SP Group's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

SP Group has net debt worth 14% of its market capitalization. That's enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you're comparing it to companies without debt.

The Verdict On SP Group's P/E Ratio

SP Group has a P/E of 17.3. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 16.0. While the company does use modest debt, its recent earnings growth is very good. Therefore, it's not particularly surprising that it has a above average P/E ratio.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: SP Group 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).

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.