Andersons (NASDAQ:ANDE) shares have had a really impressive month, gaining 30%, after some slippage. But shareholders may not all be feeling jubilant, since the share price is still down 27% in the last year.
All else being equal, a sharp share price increase should make a stock less attractive to potential investors. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that deep value investors might steer clear when expectations of a company are too high. 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.
How Does Andersons's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
Andersons has a P/E ratio of 21.38. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (21.6) for companies in the consumer retailing industry is roughly the same as Andersons's P/E.
Andersons's P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. So if Andersons actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Further research into factors such as insider buying and selling, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.
Andersons saw earnings per share decrease by 64% last year. And EPS is down 23% a year, over the last 5 years. This could justify a pessimistic P/E.
Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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).
How Does Andersons's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Andersons has net debt worth a very significant 145% of its market capitalization. This level of debt justifies a relatively low P/E, so remain cognizant of the debt, if you're comparing it to other stocks.
The Verdict On Andersons's P/E Ratio
Andersons trades on a P/E ratio of 21.4, which is above its market average of 18.3. With significant debt and no EPS growth last year, shareholders are betting on an improvement in earnings from the company. What is very clear is that the market has become more optimistic about Andersons over the last month, with the P/E ratio rising from 16.4 back then to 21.4 today. 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.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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