The Consort Medical (LON:CSRT) share price has done well in the last month, posting a gain of 37%. But that gain wasn't enough to make shareholders whole, as the share price is still down 2.8% 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. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.
How Does Consort Medical's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 48.58 that there is some investor optimism about Consort Medical. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (29.7) for companies in the medical equipment industry is lower than Consort Medical's P/E.
Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Consort Medical shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
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. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others -- and that may encourage shareholders to sell.
Consort Medical saw earnings per share decrease by 35% last year. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 12% per year over the last five years. This might lead to muted expectations.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
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. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.
Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.
How Does Consort Medical's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Consort Medical's net debt is 19% of its market cap. 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 Bottom Line On Consort Medical's P/E Ratio
Consort Medical has a P/E of 48.6. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 17.1. With some debt but no EPS growth last year, the market has high expectations of future profits. What is very clear is that the market has become significantly more optimistic about Consort Medical over the last month, with the P/E ratio rising from 35.4 back then to 48.6 today. If you like to buy stocks that have recently impressed the market, then this one might be a candidate; but if you prefer to invest when there is 'blood in the streets', then you may feel the opportunity has passed.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.
But note: Consort Medical 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).
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