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Don't Sell Harbour Centre Development Limited (HKG:51) Before You Read This

Simply Wall St

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at Harbour Centre Development Limited's (HKG:51) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Based on the last twelve months, Harbour Centre Development's P/E ratio is 12.42. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 8.1%.

View our latest analysis for Harbour Centre Development

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 Harbour Centre Development:

P/E of 12.42 = HK$12.98 ÷ HK$1.05 (Based on the year to June 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each HK$1 the company has earned over the last year. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

How Does Harbour Centre Development'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 Harbour Centre Development has a higher P/E than the average (5.9) P/E for companies in the real estate industry.

SEHK:51 Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 3rd 2019

Harbour Centre Development's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

If earnings fall then in the future the 'E' will be lower. That means unless the share price falls, the P/E will increase in a few years. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others -- and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

Harbour Centre Development's earnings per share fell by 34% in the last twelve months. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 11% per year over the last three years. This could justify a low P/E.

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. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

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.

Is Debt Impacting Harbour Centre Development's P/E?

Harbour Centre Development has net cash of HK$598m. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.

The Verdict On Harbour Centre Development's P/E Ratio

Harbour Centre Development trades on a P/E ratio of 12.4, which is above its market average of 10.4. The recent drop in earnings per share would make some investors cautious, but the relatively strong balance sheet will allow the company time to invest in growth. Clearly, the high P/E indicates shareholders think it will!

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. 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 Harbour Centre Development. 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.