JTF International Holdings (HKG:8479) shares have had a really impressive month, gaining 34%, after some slippage. But shareholders may not all be feeling jubilant, since the share price is still down 18% 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). 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 JTF International Holdings Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
JTF International Holdings's P/E of 3.64 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (6.9) for companies in the oil and gas industry is higher than JTF International Holdings's P/E.
JTF International Holdings's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with JTF International Holdings, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. You 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.
JTF International Holdings shrunk earnings per share by 14% over the last year. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 21% per year over the last five years. This might lead to muted expectations.
Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. 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.
Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).
So What Does JTF International Holdings's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
JTF International Holdings has net cash of CN¥14m. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.
The Bottom Line On JTF International Holdings's P/E Ratio
JTF International Holdings has a P/E of 3.6. That's below the average in the HK market, which is 10.5. Falling earnings per share are likely to be keeping potential buyers away, the healthy balance sheet means the company retains potential for future growth. If that occurs, the current low P/E could prove to be temporary. What we know for sure is that investors are becoming less uncomfortable about JTF International Holdings's prospects, since they have pushed its P/E ratio from 2.7 to 3.6 over the last month. For those who like to invest in turnarounds, that might mean it's time to put the stock on a watchlist, or research it. But others might consider the opportunity to have passed.
When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. Although we don't have analyst forecasts shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
But note: JTF International Holdings 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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