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Here's What Elkem ASA's (OB:ELK) 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. To keep it practical, we'll show how Elkem ASA's (OB:ELK) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. What is Elkem's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 6.48. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 15.4%.

See our latest analysis for Elkem

How Do I Calculate Elkem's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Elkem:

P/E of 6.48 = NOK21.40 ÷ NOK3.30 (Based on the year to June 2019.)

Is A High P/E 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.

Does Elkem Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see Elkem has a lower P/E than the average (17.2) in the chemicals industry classification.

OB:ELK Price Estimation Relative to Market, October 21st 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Elkem shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Since the market seems unimpressed with Elkem, 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

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Elkem saw earnings per share decrease by 38% last year.

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

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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.

So What Does Elkem's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Elkem's net debt equates to 41% of its market capitalization. You'd want to be aware of this fact, but it doesn't bother us.

The Bottom Line On Elkem's P/E Ratio

Elkem's P/E is 6.5 which is below average (13.4) in the NO market. With only modest debt, it's likely the lack of EPS growth at least partially explains the pessimism implied by the P/E ratio.

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.

You might be able to find a better buy than Elkem. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.