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Does Canadian Natural Resources Limited (TSE:CNQ) Have A Good P/E Ratio?

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 Canadian Natural Resources Limited's (TSE:CNQ), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Canadian Natural Resources has a P/E ratio of 8.81. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 11.3%.

See our latest analysis for Canadian Natural Resources

How Do I Calculate Canadian Natural Resources's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Canadian Natural Resources:

P/E of 8.81 = CA$35.25 ÷ CA$4.00 (Based on the year to June 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each CA$1 the company has earned over the last year. All else being equal, it's better to pay a low price -- but as Warren Buffett said, 'It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.

Does Canadian Natural Resources 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 Canadian Natural Resources has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the oil and gas industry average (8.8).

TSX:CNQ Price Estimation Relative to Market, October 1st 2019

That indicates that the market expects Canadian Natural Resources will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. So if Canadian Natural Resources actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. 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

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

Canadian Natural Resources's 85% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive.

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

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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.

Is Debt Impacting Canadian Natural Resources's P/E?

Canadian Natural Resources's net debt is 54% of its market cap. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you should absolutely keep in mind it has significant borrowings.

The Verdict On Canadian Natural Resources's P/E Ratio

Canadian Natural Resources has a P/E of 8.8. That's below the average in the CA market, which is 14.0. The company has a meaningful amount of debt on the balance sheet, but that should not eclipse the solid earnings growth. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue.

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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: Canadian Natural Resources 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).

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.

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. Thank you for reading.