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Does Mayr-Melnhof Karton AG's (VIE:MMK) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

Simply Wall St

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 Mayr-Melnhof Karton AG's (VIE:MMK) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Mayr-Melnhof Karton has a P/E ratio of 13.63. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 7.3%.

See our latest analysis for Mayr-Melnhof Karton

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 Mayr-Melnhof Karton:

P/E of 13.63 = EUR125.00 ÷ EUR9.17 (Based on the year to September 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 EUR1 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.

How Does Mayr-Melnhof Karton's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that Mayr-Melnhof Karton has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the packaging industry average (14.7).

WBAG:MMK Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 16th 2020

Mayr-Melnhof Karton's P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. Checking factors such as director buying and selling. could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Mayr-Melnhof Karton increased earnings per share by 9.5% last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 7.6%.

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. 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.

Mayr-Melnhof Karton's Balance Sheet

Net debt totals just 9.1% of Mayr-Melnhof Karton's market cap. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Bottom Line On Mayr-Melnhof Karton's P/E Ratio

Mayr-Melnhof Karton trades on a P/E ratio of 13.6, which is fairly close to the AT market average of 14.6. With modest debt and some recent earnings growth, it seems likely the market expects a steady performance going forward.

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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

You might be able to find a better buy than Mayr-Melnhof Karton. 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.