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Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Freelance.com SA (EPA:ALFRE) Still Undervalued?

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 Freelance.com SA's (EPA:ALFRE), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Freelance.com has a price to earnings ratio of 16.57, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay €16.57 for every €1 in trailing yearly profits.

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See our latest analysis for Freelance.com

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Freelance.com:

P/E of 16.57 = €2.06 ÷ €0.12 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

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. That isn't necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Freelance.com's earnings made like a rocket, taking off 78% last year.

How Does Freelance.com's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. As you can see below Freelance.com has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the professional services industry, which is 16.6.

ENXTPA:ALFRE Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 21st 2019

Freelance.com's P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. I inform my view byby checking management tenure and remuneration, among other things.

Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

Is Debt Impacting Freelance.com's P/E?

With net cash of €8.9m, Freelance.com has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 12% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Verdict On Freelance.com's P/E Ratio

Freelance.com's P/E is 16.6 which is about average (17.6) in the FR market. The excess cash it carries is the gravy on top its fast EPS growth. So at a glance we're a bit surprised that Freelance.com does not have a higher P/E ratio. All the more so, since analysts expect further profit growth. Click here to research this potential opportunity..

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. 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.

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.

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.