It's really great to see that even after a strong run, AK Medical Holdings (HKG:1789) shares have been powering on, with a gain of 39% in the last thirty days. Zooming out, the annual gain of 208% knocks our socks off.
Assuming no other changes, a sharply higher share price makes a stock less attractive to potential buyers. In the long term, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, but in the short term prices bounce around in response to short term factors (which are not always obvious). So some would prefer to hold off buying when there is a lot of optimism towards a stock. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors' expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E ratio means that investors have a high expectation about future growth, while a low P/E ratio means they have low expectations about future growth.
Does AK Medical Holdings Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 55.40 that there is some investor optimism about AK Medical Holdings. As you can see below, AK Medical Holdings has a much higher P/E than the average company (17.2) in the medical equipment industry.
That means that the market expects AK Medical Holdings will outperform other companies in its industry. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.
It's nice to see that AK Medical Holdings grew EPS by a stonking 39% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 23% annually, over the last five years. I'd therefore be a little surprised if its P/E ratio was not relatively high.
Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. 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.
Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).
So What Does AK Medical Holdings's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
AK Medical Holdings has net cash of CN¥516m. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.
The Bottom Line On AK Medical Holdings's P/E Ratio
AK Medical Holdings's P/E is 55.4 which suggests the market is more focussed on the future opportunity rather than the current level of earnings. 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). What we know for sure is that investors have become much more excited about AK Medical Holdings recently, since they have pushed its P/E ratio from 39.8 to 55.4 over the last month. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might mean it's time to put the stock on a watchlist, or research it. But the contrarian may see it as a missed opportunity.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.
But note: AK Medical Holdings 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).
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