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Is Gilead Sciences Inc (NASDAQ:GILD) Attractive At Its Current PE Ratio?

The content of this article will benefit those of you who are starting to educate yourself about investing in the stock market and want to learn about the link between companyâ€™s fundamentals and stock market performance.

Gilead Sciences Inc (NASDAQ:GILD) is currently trading at a trailing P/E of 44.3, which is higher than the industry average of 26.2. Though this might seem to be a negative, you might change your mind after I explain the assumptions behind the P/E ratio. In this article, I will explain what the P/E ratio is as well as what you should look out for when using it.

Breaking down the Price-Earnings ratio

A common ratio used for relative valuation is the P/E ratio. It compares a stockâ€™s price per share to the stockâ€™s earnings per share. A more intuitive way of understanding the P/E ratio is to think of it as how much investors are paying for each dollar of the companyâ€™s earnings.

P/E Calculation for GILD

Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share Ã· Earnings per share

GILD Price-Earnings Ratio = \$74.93 Ã· \$1.693 = 44.3x

The P/E ratio itself doesnâ€™t tell you a lot; however, it becomes very insightful when you compare it with other similar companies. Our goal is to compare the stockâ€™s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar attributes to GILD, such as company lifetime and products sold. One way of gathering a peer group is to use firms in the same industry, which is what Iâ€™ll do. Since GILDâ€™s P/E of 44.3 is higher than its industry peers (26.2), it means that investors are paying more for each dollar of GILDâ€™s earnings. This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 25 Biotechs companies in US including HEALTHeUNIVERSE, Forward Pharma and Portage Biotech. You could think of it like this: the market is pricing GILD as if it is a stronger company than the average of its industry group.

A few caveats

Before you jump to conclusions it is important to realise that there are assumptions in this analysis. Firstly, that our peer group contains companies that are similar to GILD. If this isnâ€™t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to other factors. Take, for example, the scenario where Gilead Sciences Inc is growing profits more quickly than the average comparable company. In that case, the market may be correct to value it on a higher P/E ratio. We should also be aware that the stocks we are comparing to GILD may not be fairly valued. So while we can reasonably surmise that it is optimistically valued relative to a peer group, it might be fairly valued, if the peer group is undervalued.

What this means for you:

If your personal research into the stock confirms what the P/E ratio is telling you, it might be a good time to rebalance your portfolio and reduce your holdings in GILD. But keep in mind that the usefulness of relative valuation depends on whether you are comfortable with making the assumptions I mentioned above. Remember that basing your investment decision off one metric alone is certainly not sufficient. There are many things I have not taken into account in this article and the PE ratio is very one-dimensional. If you have not done so already, I highly recommend you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for GILDâ€™s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for GILDâ€™s outlook.
2. Past Track Record: Has GILD been consistently performing well irrespective of the ups and downs in the market? Go into more detail in the past performance analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of GILDâ€™s historicals for more clarity.
3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

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.