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What Does Hyster-Yale Materials Handling Inc’s (NYSE:HY) PE Ratio Tell You?

I am writing today to help inform people who are new to the stock market and want to learn about the link between company’s fundamentals and stock market performance.

Hyster-Yale Materials Handling Inc (NYSE:HY) is currently trading at a trailing P/E of 28.5, which is higher than the industry average of 19.8. Though this might seem to be a negative, you might change your mind after I explain the assumptions behind the P/E ratio. Today, I will deconstruct the P/E ratio and highlight what you need to be careful of when using the P/E ratio.

View our latest analysis for Hyster-Yale Materials Handling

Breaking down the Price-Earnings ratio

NYSE:HY PE PEG Gauge October 22nd 18

P/E is often used for relative valuation since earnings power is a chief driver of investment value. It compares a stock’s price per share to the stock’s earnings per share. A more intuitive way of understanding the P/E ratio is to think of it as how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

P/E Calculation for HY

Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share

HY Price-Earnings Ratio = $59.71 ÷ $2.098 = 28.5x

The P/E ratio isn’t a metric you view in isolation and only becomes useful when you compare it against other similar companies. We want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar characteristics as HY, such as size and country of operation. A common peer group is companies that exist in the same industry, which is what I use. HY’s P/E of 28.5 is higher than its industry peers (19.8), which implies that each dollar of HY’s earnings is being overvalued by investors. This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 25 Machinery companies in US including Eco Energy Tech Asia, EnPro Industries and Hebron Technology. You could think of it like this: the market is pricing HY as if it is a stronger company than the average of its industry group.

A few caveats

Before you jump to conclusions it is important to realise that there are assumptions in this analysis. Firstly, that our peer group contains companies that are similar to HY. If this isn’t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to other factors. For example, if Hyster-Yale Materials Handling Inc is growing faster than its peers, then it would deserve a higher P/E ratio. Of course, it is possible that the stocks we are comparing with HY are not fairly valued. So while we can reasonably surmise that it is optimistically valued relative to a peer group, it might be fairly valued, if the peer group is undervalued.

What this means for you:

You may have already conducted fundamental analysis on the stock as a shareholder, so its current overvaluation could signal a potential selling opportunity to reduce your exposure to HY. Now that you understand the ins and outs of the PE metric, you should know to bear in mind its limitations before you make an investment decision. Remember that basing your investment decision off one metric alone is certainly not sufficient. There are many things I have not taken into account in this article and the PE ratio is very one-dimensional. If you have not done so already, I urge you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for HY’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for HY’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has HY been consistently performing well irrespective of the ups and downs in the market? Go into more detail in the past performance analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of HY’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.