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 Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc.'s (NYSE:SSD) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Simpson Manufacturing has a P/E ratio of 24.22. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $24.22 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.
How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?
The formula for P/E is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Simpson Manufacturing:
P/E of 24.22 = $63.73 ÷ $2.63 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)
Is A High P/E 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 Simpson Manufacturing Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Simpson Manufacturing has a higher P/E than the average (18.4) P/E for companies in the building industry.
Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Simpson Manufacturing 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 investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. 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.
It's great to see that Simpson Manufacturing grew EPS by 11% in the last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 16% per year over the last five years. So one might expect an above average P/E ratio.
Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. 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.
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).
Is Debt Impacting Simpson Manufacturing's P/E?
Since Simpson Manufacturing holds net cash of US$148m, it can spend on growth, justifying a higher P/E ratio than otherwise.
The Bottom Line On Simpson Manufacturing's P/E Ratio
Simpson Manufacturing's P/E is 24.2 which is above average (17.6) in its market. With cash in the bank the company has plenty of growth options -- and it is already on the right track. So it is not surprising the market is probably extrapolating recent growth well into the future, reflected in the relatively high P/E ratio.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.