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Don't Sell At Home Group Inc. (NYSE:HOME) Before You Read This

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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 At Home Group Inc.'s (NYSE:HOME) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. At Home Group has a P/E ratio of 25.55, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $25.55 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for At Home Group

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for At Home Group:

P/E of 25.55 = $19.89 ÷ $0.78 (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 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

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 unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Notably, At Home Group grew EPS by a whopping 48% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 123% annually, over the last three years. So we'd generally expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.

Does At Home Group Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (15.9) for companies in the specialty retail industry is lower than At Home Group's P/E.

NYSE:HOME Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 14th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that At Home Group shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn't guaranteed. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

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. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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).

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).

How Does At Home Group's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

At Home Group's net debt equates to 39% of its market capitalization. While it's worth keeping this in mind, it isn't a worry.

The Bottom Line On At Home Group's P/E Ratio

At Home Group trades on a P/E ratio of 25.5, which is above the US market average of 17.8. While the company does use modest debt, its recent earnings growth is superb. So on this analysis a high P/E ratio seems reasonable.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than At Home Group. 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.