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Does Urban Outfitters, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:URBN) 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 apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Urban Outfitters, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:URBN), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. What is Urban Outfitters's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 8.51. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $8.51 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Urban Outfitters

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Urban Outfitters:

P/E of 8.51 = $22.96 ÷ $2.7 (Based on the trailing twelve months to April 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. All else being equal, it's better to pay a low price -- but as Warren Buffett said, 'It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.'

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. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

In the last year, Urban Outfitters grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 115% gain was both fast and well deserved. Having said that, the average EPS growth over the last three years wasn't so good, coming in at 14%.

How Does Urban Outfitters'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 Urban Outfitters has a lower P/E than the average (15.2) P/E for companies in the specialty retail industry.

NasdaqGS:URBN Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 5th 2019

Urban Outfitters'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. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

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. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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 Urban Outfitters's P/E?

With net cash of US$520m, Urban Outfitters has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 23% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Verdict On Urban Outfitters's P/E Ratio

Urban Outfitters trades on a P/E ratio of 8.5, which is below the US market average of 18.2. It grew its EPS nicely over the last year, and the healthy balance sheet implies there is more potential for growth. One might conclude that the market is a bit pessimistic, given the low P/E ratio.

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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: Urban Outfitters 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.