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Does Alfa Laval AB (publ)'s (STO:ALFA) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

Simply Wall St

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Alfa Laval AB (publ)'s (STO:ALFA), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. What is Alfa Laval's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 13.42. That means that at current prices, buyers pay SEK13.42 for every SEK1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Alfa Laval

How Do I Calculate Alfa Laval's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Alfa Laval:

P/E of 13.42 = SEK175.500 ÷ SEK13.079 (Based on the year 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 implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

Does Alfa Laval Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that Alfa Laval has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the machinery industry average (13.4).

OM:ALFA Price Estimation Relative to Market March 26th 2020

Alfa Laval's P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. Checking factors such as director buying and selling. could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. 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. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Alfa Laval increased earnings per share by an impressive 21% over the last twelve months. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 13% per year over the last five years. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.

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

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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.

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.

How Does Alfa Laval's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Alfa Laval has net debt worth just 2.6% of its market capitalization. So it doesn't have as many options as it would with net cash, but its debt would not have much of an impact on its P/E ratio.

The Bottom Line On Alfa Laval's P/E Ratio

Alfa Laval's P/E is 13.4 which is about average (14.1) in the SE market. With only modest debt levels, and strong earnings growth, the market seems to doubt that the growth can be maintained.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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.

You might be able to find a better buy than Alfa Laval. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.