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 ManpowerGroup Inc.'s (NYSE:MAN) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. What is ManpowerGroup's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 10.17. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying $10.17 for every $1 in prior year profit.
How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?
The formula for P/E is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for ManpowerGroup:
P/E of 10.17 = $81.74 ÷ $8.04 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)
Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?
A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. 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.
Does ManpowerGroup Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see ManpowerGroup has a lower P/E than the average (19.8) in the professional services industry classification.
Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that ManpowerGroup shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Since the market seems unimpressed with ManpowerGroup, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.
ManpowerGroup saw earnings per share decrease by 10% last year. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 11%.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
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. 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).
ManpowerGroup's Balance Sheet
ManpowerGroup has net debt worth just 6.2% of its market capitalization. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.
The Bottom Line On ManpowerGroup's P/E Ratio
ManpowerGroup's P/E is 10.2 which is below average (17.3) in the US market. With only modest debt, it's likely the lack of EPS growth at least partially explains the pessimism implied by the P/E ratio.
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.' So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than ManpowerGroup. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. Thank you for reading.