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Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Verisk Analytics, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRSK) 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 Verisk Analytics, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:VRSK), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Verisk Analytics has a price to earnings ratio of 51.65, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $51.65 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Verisk Analytics

How Do I Calculate Verisk Analytics's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Verisk Analytics:

P/E of 51.65 = $142.100 ÷ $2.751 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

(Note: the above calculation results may not be precise due to rounding.)

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.

Does Verisk Analytics Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Verisk Analytics has a significantly higher P/E than the average (11.8) P/E for companies in the professional services industry.

NasdaqGS:VRSK Price Estimation Relative to Market March 27th 2020

Verisk Analytics's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn't guaranteed. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Verisk Analytics shrunk earnings per share by 24% over the last year. But EPS is up 5.2% over the last 5 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. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. 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 Verisk Analytics's P/E?

Verisk Analytics has net debt worth 13% of its market capitalization. It would probably deserve a higher P/E ratio if it was net cash, since it would have more options for growth.

The Bottom Line On Verisk Analytics's P/E Ratio

With a P/E ratio of 51.7, Verisk Analytics is expected to grow earnings very strongly in the years to come. With some debt but no EPS growth last year, the market has high expectations of future profits.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Verisk Analytics. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.