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Does UFP Technologies, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:UFPT) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

Simply Wall St

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The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use UFP Technologies, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:UFPT) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. UFP Technologies has a P/E ratio of 16.81, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $16.81 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for UFP Technologies

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for UFP Technologies:

P/E of 16.81 = $37.1 ÷ $2.21 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing 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

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

UFP Technologies's 82% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. And earnings per share have improved by 31% annually, over the last three years. So you might say it really deserves to have an above-average P/E ratio.

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

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. The image below shows that UFP Technologies has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the packaging industry average (16.8).

NasdaqCM:UFPT Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 9th 2019

Its P/E ratio suggests that UFP Technologies shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. I inform my view byby checking management tenure and remuneration, among other things.

Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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).

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.

UFP Technologies's Balance Sheet

Net debt totals just 7.1% of UFP Technologies's market cap. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Bottom Line On UFP Technologies's P/E Ratio

UFP Technologies has a P/E of 16.8. That's around the same as the average in the US market, which is 18.1. With only modest debt levels, and strong earnings growth, the market seems to doubt that the growth can be maintained.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: UFP Technologies 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.