Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Eagle Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:EGRX) share price has dived 35% in the last thirty days. Even longer term holders have taken a real hit with the stock declining 22% in the last year.
All else being equal, a share price drop should make a stock more attractive to potential investors. In the long term, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, but in the short term prices bounce around in response to short term factors (which are not always obvious). The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors' expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.
Does Eagle Pharmaceuticals Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 35.99 that there is some investor optimism about Eagle Pharmaceuticals. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (18.6) for companies in the biotechs industry is lower than Eagle Pharmaceuticals's P/E.
That means that the market expects Eagle Pharmaceuticals will outperform other companies in its industry. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.
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.
Eagle Pharmaceuticals's earnings per share fell by 52% in the last twelve months. And EPS is down 42% a year, over the last 3 years. This could justify a low P/E.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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 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.
So What Does Eagle Pharmaceuticals's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Eagle Pharmaceuticals has net cash of US$71m. This is fairly high at 14% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.
The Bottom Line On Eagle Pharmaceuticals's P/E Ratio
Eagle Pharmaceuticals trades on a P/E ratio of 36.0, which is above its market average of 15.1. Falling earnings per share is probably keeping traditional value investors away, but the healthy balance sheet means the company retains the potential for future growth. If this growth fails to materialise, the current high P/E could prove to be temporary, as the share price falls. Given Eagle Pharmaceuticals's P/E ratio has declined from 55.2 to 36.0 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is significantly less confident about the business today, than it was back then. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might be a bad sign, but for a contrarian, it may signal opportunity.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. 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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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