U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 12 mins

Don't Sell Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE:BSX) Before You Read This

Simply Wall St

Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. To keep it practical, we'll show how Boston Scientific Corporation's (NYSE:BSX) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Based on the last twelve months, Boston Scientific's P/E ratio is 41.15. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 2.4%.

See our latest analysis for Boston Scientific

How Do I Calculate Boston Scientific's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Boston Scientific:

P/E of 41.15 = $41.43 ÷ $1.01 (Based on the year to June 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. 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.

Does Boston Scientific Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. As you can see below Boston Scientific has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the medical equipment industry, which is 40.3.

NYSE:BSX Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 15th 2019

That indicates that the market expects Boston Scientific will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. So if Boston Scientific actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Checking factors such as director buying and selling. could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

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. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Boston Scientific's 166% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. The cherry on top is that the five year growth rate was an impressive 41% per year. So I'd be surprised if the P/E ratio was not above average.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. 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 expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

How Does Boston Scientific's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Boston Scientific has net debt worth 16% of its market capitalization. That's enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you're comparing it to companies without debt.

The Bottom Line On Boston Scientific's P/E Ratio

Boston Scientific has a P/E of 41.1. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 17.1. The company is not overly constrained by its modest debt levels, and its recent EPS growth is nothing short of stand-out. So to be frank we are not surprised it has a high P/E ratio.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Boston Scientific. 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 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.