Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Bridgford Foods (NASDAQ:BRID) share price has dived 30% in the last thirty days. That drop has capped off a tough year for shareholders, with the share price down 36% in that time.
Assuming nothing else has changed, a lower share price makes a stock more 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). The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E implies that investors have high expectations of what a company can achieve compared to a company with a low P/E ratio.
How Does Bridgford Foods's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
Bridgford Foods has a P/E ratio of 21.19. As you can see below Bridgford Foods has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the food industry, which is 19.9.
That indicates that the market expects Bridgford Foods will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. So if Bridgford Foods 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
If earnings fall then in the future the 'E' will be lower. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.
Bridgford Foods saw earnings per share decrease by 35% last year. And over the longer term (3 years) earnings per share have decreased 8.2% annually. This growth rate might warrant a low P/E ratio.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. 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.
How Does Bridgford Foods's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Bridgford Foods has net debt worth 15% of its market capitalization. That's enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you're comparing it to companies without debt.
The Verdict On Bridgford Foods's P/E Ratio
Bridgford Foods has a P/E of 21.2. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 14.0. With modest debt but no EPS growth in the last year, it's fair to say the P/E implies some optimism about future earnings, from the market. Given Bridgford Foods's P/E ratio has declined from 30.5 to 21.2 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is significantly less confident 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 a contrarian, it may signal opportunity.
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. Although we don't have analyst forecasts you could get a better understanding of its growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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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