To the annoyance of some shareholders, SBM Offshore (AMS:SBMO) shares are down a considerable 30% in the last month. Indeed the recent decline has arguably caused some bitterness for shareholders who have held through the 34% drop over twelve months.
All else being equal, a share price drop should make a stock more attractive to potential investors. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.
Does SBM Offshore Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
SBM Offshore's P/E of 6.81 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. If you look at the image below, you can see SBM Offshore has a lower P/E than the average (8.7) in the energy services industry classification.
This suggests that market participants think SBM Offshore will underperform other companies in its industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
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.
SBM Offshore's earnings made like a rocket, taking off 78% last year. Even better, EPS is up 29% per year over three years. So you might say it really deserves to have an above-average P/E ratio. Regrettably, the longer term performance is poor, with EPS down 7.7% per year over 5 years.
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. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).
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).
Is Debt Impacting SBM Offshore's P/E?
SBM Offshore's net debt is considerable, at 172% of its market cap. This level of debt justifies a relatively low P/E, so remain cognizant of the debt, if you're comparing it to other stocks.
The Bottom Line On SBM Offshore's P/E Ratio
SBM Offshore trades on a P/E ratio of 6.8, which is below the NL market average of 15.4. 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 SBM Offshore's P/E ratio has declined from 9.8 to 6.8 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.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. 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.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than SBM Offshore. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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