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Is Esker SA’s (EPA:ALESK) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

Terrence Jolly

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 Esker SA’s (EPA:ALESK) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Esker has a price to earnings ratio of 45.36, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 2.2%.

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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 Esker:

P/E of 45.36 = €63.9 ÷ €1.41 (Based on the year to June 2018.)

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.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. 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 Esker grew EPS by 15% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 14% annually, over the last five years. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.

How Does Esker’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (27.9) for companies in the software industry is lower than Esker’s P/E.

ENXTPA:ALESK PE PEG Gauge January 11th 19

That means that the market expects Esker 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.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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).

Esker’s Balance Sheet

Esker has net cash of €8.2m. 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 Esker’s P/E Ratio

Esker has a P/E of 45.4. That’s significantly higher than the average in the FR market, which is 14.9. Its strong balance sheet gives the company plenty of resources for extra growth, and it has already proven it can grow. So it does not seem strange that the P/E is above average.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. People often underestimate remarkable growth — so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold they key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Esker. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.