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Don't Sell Shaw Communications Inc. (TSE:SJR.B) Before You Read This

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The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use Shaw Communications Inc.'s (TSE:SJR.B) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Shaw Communications has a P/E ratio of 29.87. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying CA$29.87 for every CA$1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for Shaw Communications

How Do You Calculate Shaw Communications's P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Shaw Communications:

P/E of 29.87 = CA$26.92 ÷ CA$0.90 (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 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. 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 Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

When earnings fall, the 'E' decreases, over time. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.

Shaw Communications's 81% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. On the other hand, the longer term performance is poor, with EPS down 12% per year over 5 years.

How Does Shaw Communications's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. As you can see below, Shaw Communications has a higher P/E than the average company (23.2) in the media industry.

TSX:SJR.B Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 4th 2019

That means that the market expects Shaw Communications will outperform other companies in its industry. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. 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.

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

Shaw Communications's Balance Sheet

Shaw Communications's net debt equates to 29% of its market capitalization. You'd want to be aware of this fact, but it doesn't bother us.

The Verdict On Shaw Communications's P/E Ratio

Shaw Communications trades on a P/E ratio of 29.9, which is above the CA market average of 14.4. Its debt levels do not imperil its balance sheet and its EPS growth is very healthy indeed. 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.

But note: Shaw Communications may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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.