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Unfortunately for some shareholders, the North American Construction Group (TSE:NOA) share price has dived 49% in the last thirty days. That drop has capped off a tough year for shareholders, with the share price down 55% in that time.
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). So, on certain occasions, long term focussed investors try to take advantage of pessimistic expectations to buy shares at a better price. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E ratio means that investors have a high expectation about future growth, while a low P/E ratio means they have low expectations about future growth.
Does North American Construction Group Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
North American Construction Group's P/E of 4.87 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. If you look at the image below, you can see North American Construction Group has a lower P/E than the average (9.7) in the energy services industry classification.
Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that North American Construction Group shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.
North American Construction Group's 137% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive.
Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet
It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. 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.
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.
So What Does North American Construction Group's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Net debt totals a substantial 155% of North American Construction Group's market cap. This is a relatively high level of debt, so the stock probably deserves a relatively low P/E ratio. Keep that in mind when comparing it to other companies.
The Bottom Line On North American Construction Group's P/E Ratio
North American Construction Group has a P/E of 4.9. That's below the average in the CA market, which is 9.2. The company has a meaningful amount of debt on the balance sheet, but that should not eclipse the solid earnings growth. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified. Given North American Construction Group's P/E ratio has declined from 9.6 to 4.9 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is more worried about the business today, than it was back then. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might be a bad sign, but for deep value investors this stock might justify some research.
When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. 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 North American Construction Group. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
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