To the annoyance of some shareholders, Energy One (ASX:EOL) shares are down a considerable 31% in the last month. Looking at the bigger picture, the stock is up 85% in the last year.
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 implies that investors have high expectations of what a company can achieve compared to a company with a low P/E ratio.
Does Energy One Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
Energy One has a P/E ratio of 38.25. The image below shows that Energy One has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the software industry average (38.9).
That indicates that the market expects Energy One will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. I would further inform my view by checking insider buying and selling., among other things.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.
Energy One's earnings made like a rocket, taking off 56% last year. Even better, EPS is up 40% per year over three years. So we'd absolutely expect it to have a relatively high 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. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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.
Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.
Energy One's Balance Sheet
Energy One's net debt is 8.5% of its market cap. So it doesn't have as many options as it would with net cash, but its debt would not have much of an impact on its P/E ratio.
The Bottom Line On Energy One's P/E Ratio
Energy One's P/E is 38.3 which is above average (15.9) in its market. While the company does use modest debt, its recent earnings growth is superb. So on this analysis a high P/E ratio seems reasonable. Given Energy One's P/E ratio has declined from 55.8 to 38.3 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.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Energy One. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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