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Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Data I/O Corporation (NASDAQ:DAIO) Still Undervalued?

Simply Wall St

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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 Data I/O Corporation's (NASDAQ:DAIO) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Data I/O has a price to earnings ratio of 26.56, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $26.56 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Data I/O

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Data I/O:

P/E of 26.56 = $4.76 ÷ $0.18 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 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 is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about 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. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Data I/O's earnings per share fell by 68% in the last twelve months. But EPS is up 26% over the last 3 years.

Does Data I/O 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. As you can see below, Data I/O has a higher P/E than the average company (20.9) in the electronic industry.

NasdaqCM:DAIO Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 7th 2019

That means that the market expects Data I/O will outperform other companies in its industry. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

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. 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 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 Data I/O's P/E?

Data I/O has net cash of US$15m. This is fairly high at 37% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.

The Verdict On Data I/O's P/E Ratio

Data I/O has a P/E of 26.6. That's higher than the average in the US market, which is 18.4. The recent drop in earnings per share would make some investors cautious, but the relatively strong balance sheet will allow the company time to invest in growth. Clearly, the high P/E indicates shareholders think it will!

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: Data I/O 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.