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Does Stratus Properties Inc’s (NASDAQ:STRS) PE Ratio Signal A Selling Opportunity?

Michael Crabtree

Stratus Properties Inc (NASDAQ:STRS) is trading with a trailing P/E of 22.6x, which is higher than the industry average of 12.6x. While STRS might seem like a stock to avoid or sell if you own it, it is important to understand the assumptions behind the P/E ratio before you make any investment decisions. In this article, I will break down what the P/E ratio is, how to interpret it and what to watch out for. See our latest analysis for Stratus Properties

Demystifying the P/E ratio

NasdaqGS:STRS PE PEG Gauge Jan 6th 18
NasdaqGS:STRS PE PEG Gauge Jan 6th 18

P/E is a popular ratio used for relative valuation. By comparing a stock’s price per share to its earnings per share, we are able to see how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

P/E Calculation for STRS

Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share

STRS Price-Earnings Ratio = $29.5 ÷ $1.303 = 22.6x

The P/E ratio isn’t a metric you view in isolation and only becomes useful when you compare it against other similar companies. We want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar characteristics as STRS, such as size and country of operation. A common peer group is companies that exist in the same industry, which is what I use. STRS’s P/E of 22.6x is higher than its industry peers (12.6x), which implies that each dollar of STRS’s earnings is being overvalued by investors. As such, our analysis shows that STRS represents an over-priced stock.

Assumptions to watch out for

Before you jump to the conclusion that STRS should be banished from your portfolio, it is important to realise that our conclusion rests on two assertions. Firstly, our peer group contains companies that are similar to STRS. If this isn’t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to other factors. For example, if you are comparing lower risk firms with STRS, then its P/E would naturally be lower than its peers, as investors would value those with lower risk at a higher price. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing STRS to are fairly valued by the market. If this does not hold true, STRS’s lower P/E ratio may be because firms in our peer group are overvalued by the market.

What this means for you:

Are you a shareholder? If your personal research into the stock confirms what the P/E ratio is telling you, it might be a good time to rebalance your portfolio and reduce your holdings in STRS. But keep in mind that the usefulness of relative valuation depends on whether you are comfortable with making the assumptions I mentioned above.

Are you a potential investor? If you are considering investing in STRS, looking at the PE ratio on its own is not enough to make a well-informed decision. You will benefit from looking at additional analysis and considering its intrinsic valuation along with other relative valuation metrics like PEG and EV/Sales.

PE is one aspect of your portfolio construction to consider when holding or entering into a stock. But it is certainly not the only factor. Take a look at our most recent infographic report on Stratus Properties for a more in-depth analysis of the stock to help you make a well-informed investment decision. Since we know a limitation of PE is it doesn’t properly account for growth, you can use our free platform to see my list of stocks with a high growth potential and see if their PE is still reasonable.

To help readers see pass 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.