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Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll look at Winmark Corporation's (NASDAQ:WINA) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Winmark has a P/E ratio of 22.12, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 4.5%.
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 Winmark:
P/E of 22.12 = $173.12 ÷ $7.83 (Based on the year to March 2019.)
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. 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 Does Winmark's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (15.6) for companies in the specialty retail industry is lower than Winmark's P/E.
Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Winmark shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.
It's great to see that Winmark grew EPS by 20% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 16%. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio.
Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet
It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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.
So What Does Winmark's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Net debt totals just 6.7% of Winmark'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 Verdict On Winmark's P/E Ratio
Winmark has a P/E of 22.1. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 18. While the company does use modest debt, its recent earnings growth is very good. So on this analysis it seems reasonable that its P/E ratio is above average.
Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. We don't have analyst forecasts, but you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Winmark. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.