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What Does Global Payments Inc.'s (NYSE:GPN) P/E Ratio Tell You?

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how Global Payments Inc.'s (NYSE:GPN) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Global Payments has a P/E ratio of 71.20. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $71.20 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Global Payments

How Do I Calculate Global Payments's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Global Payments:

P/E of 71.20 = $176.66 ÷ $2.48 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each $1 of company earnings. That isn't necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

How Does Global Payments's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. As you can see below, Global Payments has a higher P/E than the average company (30.8) in the it industry.

NYSE:GPN Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 9th 2019

That means that the market expects Global Payments will outperform other companies in its industry. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn't guaranteed. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Global Payments shrunk earnings per share by 36% over the last year. But EPS is up 6.5% over the last 5 years.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in 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.

Global Payments's Balance Sheet

Net debt totals 14% of Global Payments's market cap. It would probably deserve a higher P/E ratio if it was net cash, since it would have more options for growth.

The Verdict On Global Payments's P/E Ratio

With a P/E ratio of 71.2, Global Payments is expected to grow earnings very strongly in the years to come. With a bit of debt, but a lack of recent growth, it's safe to say the market is expecting improved profit performance from the company, in the next few years.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

You might be able to find a better buy than Global Payments. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.