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Does The InterGroup Corporation's (NASDAQ:INTG) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

Simply Wall St
·4 mins read

To the annoyance of some shareholders, InterGroup (NASDAQ:INTG) shares are down a considerable in the last month. Looking back further, the stock is up 4.0% in the last year.

All else being equal, a sharp share price increase should make a stock less attractive to potential investors. In the long term, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, but in the short term prices bounce around in response to short term factors (which are not always obvious). So some would prefer to hold off buying when there is a lot of optimism towards a stock. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for InterGroup

Does InterGroup Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

InterGroup's P/E of 33.20 indicates some degree of optimism towards the stock. As you can see below, InterGroup has a higher P/E than the average company (22.4) in the real estate industry.

NasdaqCM:INTG Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 5th 2020
NasdaqCM:INTG Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 5th 2020

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that InterGroup shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

InterGroup shrunk earnings per share by 54% over the last year.

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

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. 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.

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

InterGroup's Balance Sheet

InterGroup's net debt is considerable, at 200% of its market cap. This is a relatively high level of debt, so the stock probably deserves a relatively low P/E ratio. Keep that in mind when comparing it to other companies.

The Bottom Line On InterGroup's P/E Ratio

InterGroup's P/E is 33.2 which is above average (18.2) in its market. With meaningful debt and a lack of recent earnings growth, the market has high expectations that the business will earn more in the future. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become less optimistic about InterGroup over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 33.2 back then to 33.2 today. For those who don't like to trade against momentum, that could be a warning sign, but a contrarian investor might want to take a closer look.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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. We don't have analyst forecasts, but you could get a better understanding of its growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

You might be able to find a better buy than InterGroup. 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.