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Does Card Factory plc's (LON:CARD) 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 Card Factory plc's (LON:CARD), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Card Factory has a P/E ratio of 11.50, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 8.7%.

View our latest analysis for Card Factory

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Card Factory:

P/E of 11.50 = £1.62 ÷ £0.14 (Based on the trailing twelve months to July 2019.)

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.

How Does Card Factory's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that Card Factory has a lower P/E than the average (15.8) P/E for companies in the specialty retail industry.

LSE:CARD Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 25th 2019

Card Factory's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with Card Factory, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the 'E' in the equation. 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.

Card Factory saw earnings per share decrease by 23% last year. But EPS is up 31% over the last 5 years. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 11% per year over the last three years. This might lead to low expectations.

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. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

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 Card Factory's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Card Factory has net debt equal to 31% of its market cap. While that's enough to warrant consideration, it doesn't really concern us.

The Verdict On Card Factory's P/E Ratio

Card Factory's P/E is 11.5 which is below average (18.2) in the GB market. The debt levels are not a major concern, but the lack of EPS growth is likely weighing on sentiment.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

But note: Card Factory 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).

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.