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Here's What BJ's Restaurants, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:BJRI) P/E Ratio Is Telling Us

Simply Wall St

Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to BJ's Restaurants, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:BJRI), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. What is BJ's Restaurants's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 21.13. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $21.13 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

View our latest analysis for BJ's Restaurants

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 BJ's Restaurants:

P/E of 21.13 = USD42.07 ÷ USD1.99 (Based on the year to October 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each USD1 the company has earned over the last year. 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 Does BJ's Restaurants's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (24.2) for companies in the hospitality industry is higher than BJ's Restaurants's P/E.

NasdaqGS:BJRI Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 17th 2020

BJ's Restaurants's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with BJ's Restaurants, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. 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. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

BJ's Restaurants saw earnings per share decrease by 35% last year. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 23%.

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. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

So What Does BJ's Restaurants's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

BJ's Restaurants's net debt is 17% of its market cap. It would probably deserve a higher P/E ratio if it was net cash, since it would have more options for growth.

The Verdict On BJ's Restaurants's P/E Ratio

BJ's Restaurants's P/E is 21.1 which is above average (18.4) in its market. With a bit of debt, but a lack of recent growth, it's safe to say the market is expecting improved profit performance from the company, in the next few years.

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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

But note: BJ's Restaurants may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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.

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. Thank you for reading.