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Here's What ExlService Holdings, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:EXLS) P/E Is Telling Us

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Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll look at ExlService Holdings, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:EXLS) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. ExlService Holdings has a P/E ratio of 43.99, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 2.3%.

View our latest analysis for ExlService Holdings

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for ExlService Holdings:

P/E of 43.99 = $61.66 ÷ $1.4 (Based on the year to March 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 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 Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

If earnings fall then in the future the 'E' will be lower. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.

ExlService Holdings shrunk earnings per share by 14% over the last year. And over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have decreased 1.5% annually. This could justify a pessimistic P/E.

How Does ExlService Holdings's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. As you can see below, ExlService Holdings has a higher P/E than the average company (34.9) in the it industry.

NasdaqGS:EXLS Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 18th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that ExlService Holdings shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. 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 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.

Is Debt Impacting ExlService Holdings's P/E?

Net debt totals just 0.9% of ExlService Holdings'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 ExlService Holdings's P/E Ratio

ExlService Holdings trades on a P/E ratio of 44, which is above the US market average of 17.6. 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.

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: ExlService Holdings 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.