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What Does Neenah, Inc.'s (NYSE:NP) P/E Ratio Tell You?

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Simply Wall St
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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use Neenah, Inc.'s (NYSE:NP) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Neenah has a P/E ratio of 23.45. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 4.3%.

See our latest analysis for Neenah

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 Neenah:

P/E of 23.45 = $73.06 ÷ $3.12 (Based on the year to September 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing earnings. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

Does Neenah 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. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (15.2) for companies in the forestry industry is lower than Neenah's P/E.

NYSE:NP Price Estimation Relative to Market, November 7th 2019
NYSE:NP Price Estimation Relative to Market, November 7th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Neenah shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and 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. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.

Most would be impressed by Neenah earnings growth of 22% in the last year. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 9.6% a year, over 3 years.

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. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

How Does Neenah's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Neenah has net debt worth 16% of its market capitalization. It would probably deserve a higher P/E ratio if it was net cash, since it would have more options for growth.

The Verdict On Neenah's P/E Ratio

Neenah's P/E is 23.5 which is above average (18.3) in its market. The company is not overly constrained by its modest debt levels, and its recent EPS growth very solid. So on this analysis it seems reasonable that its P/E ratio is above average.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 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 Neenah. 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 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. Thank you for reading.