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Here’s What Flowers Foods, Inc.’s (NYSE:FLO) P/E Is Telling Us

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Flowers Foods, Inc.’s (NYSE:FLO) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Flowers Foods has a P/E ratio of 18.86, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying \$18.86 for every \$1 in prior year profit.

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How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Flowers Foods:

P/E of 18.86 = \$19.22 ÷ \$1.02 (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings 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

If earnings fall then in the future the ‘E’ will be lower. That means unless the share price falls, the P/E will increase in a few years. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.

Notably, Flowers Foods grew EPS by a whopping 149% in the last year. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 6.9% a year, over 5 years.

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

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that Flowers Foods has a higher P/E than the average (17.1) P/E for companies in the food industry.

Flowers Foods’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. 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.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in 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.

How Does Flowers Foods’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Flowers Foods has net debt worth 20% of its market capitalization. This could bring some additional risk, and reduce the number of investment options for management; worth remembering if you compare its P/E to businesses without debt.

The Verdict On Flowers Foods’s P/E Ratio

Flowers Foods has a P/E of 18.9. That’s higher than the average in the US market, which is 16.8. Its debt levels do not imperil its balance sheet and it has already proven it can grow. Therefore it seems reasonable that the market would have relatively high expectations of the company

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, ‘In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.’ So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Flowers Foods. 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.