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Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Semtech Corporation (NASDAQ:SMTC) Still Undervalued?

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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 Semtech Corporation's (NASDAQ:SMTC), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. What is Semtech's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 45.37. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $45.37 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Semtech

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Semtech:

P/E of 45.37 = $44.02 ÷ $0.97 (Based on the trailing twelve months to April 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. 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. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

Semtech's earnings made like a rocket, taking off 74% last year. Even better, EPS is up 51% per year over three years. So we'd absolutely expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.

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

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that Semtech has a higher P/E than the average (21.9) P/E for companies in the semiconductor industry.

NasdaqGS:SMTC Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 14th 2019

Semtech's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

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. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

Semtech's Balance Sheet

The extra options and safety that comes with Semtech's US$84m net cash position means that it deserves a higher P/E than it would if it had a lot of net debt.

The Verdict On Semtech's P/E Ratio

Semtech trades on a P/E ratio of 45.4, which is above the US market average of 17.7. Its net cash position is the cherry on top of its superb EPS growth. To us, this is the sort of company that we would expect to carry an above average price tag (relative to earnings).

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.

But note: Semtech 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.