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Does PolyOne Corporation's (NYSE:POL) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

Simply Wall St

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at PolyOne Corporation's (NYSE:POL) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. What is PolyOne's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 17.29. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying $17.29 for every $1 in prior year profit.

See our latest analysis for PolyOne

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for PolyOne:

P/E of 17.29 = $31.36 ÷ $1.81 (Based on the year 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.

How Does PolyOne's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that PolyOne has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the chemicals industry average (17.5).

NYSE:POL Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 3rd 2019

PolyOne'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

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. 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. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

PolyOne saw earnings per share decrease by 16% last year. But EPS is up 11% over the last 5 years.

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. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

Is Debt Impacting PolyOne's P/E?

PolyOne has net debt worth 54% of its market capitalization. This is enough debt that you'd have to make some adjustments before using the P/E ratio to compare it to a company with net cash.

The Bottom Line On PolyOne's P/E Ratio

PolyOne trades on a P/E ratio of 17.3, which is fairly close to the US market average of 17.5. With significant debt and no EPS growth last year, the P/E suggests shareholders are expecting higher profit in the future.

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.

But note: PolyOne may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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.