U.S. markets closed
  • S&P 500

    4,158.24
    +100.40 (+2.47%)
     
  • Dow 30

    33,212.96
    +575.77 (+1.76%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    12,131.13
    +390.48 (+3.33%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    1,887.90
    +49.66 (+2.70%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    115.07
    +0.98 (+0.86%)
     
  • Gold

    1,857.30
    +3.40 (+0.18%)
     
  • Silver

    21.97
    +0.03 (+0.13%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.0739
    +0.0006 (+0.05%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    2.7430
    -0.0130 (-0.47%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.2631
    +0.0025 (+0.20%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    127.0850
    -0.0170 (-0.01%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    29,032.50
    +415.93 (+1.45%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    625.79
    -3.71 (-0.59%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,585.46
    +20.54 (+0.27%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    26,781.68
    +176.84 (+0.66%)
     

How Does Ashtead Group's (LON:AHT) P/E Compare To Its Industry, After The Share Price Drop?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Ashtead Group (LON:AHT) share price has dived 37% in the last thirty days. The recent drop has obliterated the annual return, with the share price now down 11% over that longer period.

Assuming nothing else has changed, a lower share price makes a stock more attractive to potential buyers. 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. So, on certain occasions, long term focussed investors try to take advantage of pessimistic expectations to buy shares at a better price. 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.

View our latest analysis for Ashtead Group

How Does Ashtead Group's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

Ashtead Group's P/E of 9.63 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. If you look at the image below, you can see Ashtead Group has a lower P/E than the average (13.6) in the trade distributors industry classification.

LSE:AHT Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 13th 2020
LSE:AHT Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 13th 2020

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Ashtead Group shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

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. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Ashtead Group increased earnings per share by an impressive 15% over the last twelve months. And earnings per share have improved by 25% annually, over the last five years. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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 Ashtead Group's P/E?

Ashtead Group's net debt is 57% of its market cap. This is enough debt that you'd have to make some adjustments before using the P/E ratio to compare it to a company with net cash.

The Bottom Line On Ashtead Group's P/E Ratio

Ashtead Group trades on a P/E ratio of 9.6, which is below the GB market average of 13.9. The company may have significant debt, but EPS growth was good last year. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue. Given Ashtead Group's P/E ratio has declined from 15.2 to 9.6 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is more worried about the business today, than it was back then. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might be a bad sign, but for deep value investors this stock might justify some research.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. So this free visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Ashtead Group. 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.