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Don't Sell La-Z-Boy Incorporated (NYSE:LZB) Before You Read This

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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how La-Z-Boy Incorporated's (NYSE:LZB) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. What is La-Z-Boy's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 15.85. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $15.85 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for La-Z-Boy

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for La-Z-Boy:

P/E of 15.85 = $34.13 ÷ $2.15 (Based on the year to January 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. That isn't necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

La-Z-Boy increased earnings per share by a whopping 39% last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 13%. With that performance, I would expect it to have an above average P/E ratio.

Does La-Z-Boy 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, La-Z-Boy has a higher P/E than the average company (13) in the consumer durables industry.

NYSE:LZB Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 3rd 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that La-Z-Boy shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

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. 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.

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.

Is Debt Impacting La-Z-Boy's P/E?

La-Z-Boy has net cash of US$99m. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.

The Bottom Line On La-Z-Boy's P/E Ratio

La-Z-Boy has a P/E of 15.9. That's below the average in the US market, which is 18.1. Not only should the net cash position reduce risk, but the recent growth has been impressive. The relatively low P/E ratio implies the market is pessimistic.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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 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 find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E 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.