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Here's What Comfort Systems USA, Inc.'s (NYSE:FIX) P/E Ratio Is Telling Us

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use Comfort Systems USA, Inc.'s (NYSE:FIX) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. What is Comfort Systems USA's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 17.55. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $17.55 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Comfort Systems USA

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Comfort Systems USA:

P/E of 17.55 = $50.07 ÷ $2.85 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Is A High P/E 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 Does Comfort Systems USA's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. As you can see below Comfort Systems USA has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the construction industry, which is 17.6.

NYSE:FIX Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 31st 2019

Comfort Systems USA's P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. I would further inform my view by checking insider buying and selling., among other things.

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. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

It's great to see that Comfort Systems USA grew EPS by 11% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 43%. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. 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).

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

How Does Comfort Systems USA's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Net debt totals 11% of Comfort Systems USA's market cap. 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 Comfort Systems USA's P/E Ratio

Comfort Systems USA has a P/E of 17.5. That's around the same as the average in the US market, which is 18.9. Given it has reasonable debt levels, and grew earnings strongly last year, the P/E indicates the market has doubts this growth can be sustained. Because analysts are predicting more growth in the future, one might have expected to see a higher P/E ratio. You can take a closer look at the fundamentals, here.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

But note: Comfort Systems USA 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.