This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at RCM Technologies Inc’s (NASDAQ:RCMT) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. RCM Technologies has a P/E ratio of 20.32, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 4.9%.
How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for RCM Technologies:
P/E of 20.32 = $3.94 ÷ $0.19 (Based on the year to September 2018.)
Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?
A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each $1 of company earnings. That isn’t a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business’s prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.
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.
It’s nice to see that RCM Technologies grew EPS by a stonking 52% in the last year. But earnings per share are down 13% per year over the last five years.
How Does RCM Technologies’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. If you look at the image below, you can see RCM Technologies has a lower P/E than the average (23.2) in the professional services industry classification.
RCM Technologies’s P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.
Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet
The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.
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).
How Does RCM Technologies’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
RCM Technologies’s net debt is 47% of its market cap. This is a reasonably significant level of debt — all else being equal you’d expect a much lower P/E than if it had net cash.
The Verdict On RCM Technologies’s P/E Ratio
RCM Technologies trades on a P/E ratio of 20.3, which is above the US market average of 18. The company is not overly constrained by its modest debt levels, and it is growing earnings per share. So it is not surprising the market is probably extrapolating recent growth well into the future, reflected in the relatively high P/E ratio.
Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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 they key to an excellent investment decision.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.
To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.
The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.