To the annoyance of some shareholders, Lisi (EPA:FII) shares are down a considerable 33% in the last month. Even longer term holders have taken a real hit with the stock declining 29% in the last year.
All else being equal, a share price drop should make a stock more 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). The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. 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 Lisi Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
Lisi's P/E is 15.25. As you can see below Lisi has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the aerospace & defense industry, which is 14.3.
Lisi's P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with 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
Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the 'E' in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.
Lisi's earnings per share fell by 24% in the last twelve months. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 3.3% per year over the last five years. This growth rate might warrant a below average 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. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.
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).
Is Debt Impacting Lisi's P/E?
Net debt totals 23% of Lisi's market cap. This could bring some additional risk, and reduce the number of investment options for management; worth remembering if you compare its P/E to businesses without debt.
The Bottom Line On Lisi's P/E Ratio
Lisi has a P/E of 15.3. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 14.0. With modest debt but no EPS growth in the last year, it's fair to say the P/E implies some optimism about future earnings, from the market. Given Lisi's P/E ratio has declined from 22.7 to 15.3 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 don't like to trade against momentum, that could be a warning sign, but a contrarian investor might want to take a closer look.
Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Lisi. 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 email@example.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.
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