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Here's What Brown-Forman Corporation's (NYSE:BF.B) P/E Is Telling Us

Simply Wall St

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at Brown-Forman Corporation's (NYSE:BF.B) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Based on the last twelve months, Brown-Forman's P/E ratio is 37.59. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 2.7%.

Check out our latest analysis for Brown-Forman

How Do I Calculate Brown-Forman's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Brown-Forman:

P/E of 37.59 = $64.56 ÷ $1.72 (Based on the year to July 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

How Does Brown-Forman'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 Brown-Forman has a higher P/E than the average (30.1) P/E for companies in the beverage industry.

NYSE:BF.B Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 19th 2019

Brown-Forman'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 further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

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.

Brown-Forman increased earnings per share by an impressive 12% over the last twelve months. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 6.6% per year over the last five years. So one might expect an above average P/E ratio. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 6.6% a year, over 3 years.

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

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. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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 Brown-Forman's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Net debt totals just 7.2% of Brown-Forman's market cap. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.

The Verdict On Brown-Forman's P/E Ratio

Brown-Forman's P/E is 37.6 which is above average (18) in its market. The company is not overly constrained by its modest debt levels, and its recent EPS growth very solid. So on this analysis it seems reasonable that its P/E ratio 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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

But note: Brown-Forman 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).

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.

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. Thank you for reading.