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Here's What Grupo Catalana Occidente, S.A.'s (BME:GCO) P/E Ratio Is Telling Us

Simply Wall St

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at Grupo Catalana Occidente, S.A.'s (BME:GCO) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Based on the last twelve months, Grupo Catalana Occidente's P/E ratio is 9.71. That means that at current prices, buyers pay €9.71 for every €1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Grupo Catalana Occidente

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 Grupo Catalana Occidente:

P/E of 9.71 = €31.40 ÷ €3.23 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each €1 of company earnings. All else being equal, it's better to pay a low price -- but as Warren Buffett said, 'It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price'.

Does Grupo Catalana Occidente Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see Grupo Catalana Occidente has a lower P/E than the average (12.5) in the insurance industry classification.

BME:GCO Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 6th 2020

Grupo Catalana Occidente's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Most would be impressed by Grupo Catalana Occidente earnings growth of 10% in the 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. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).

So What Does Grupo Catalana Occidente's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

With net cash of €1.2b, Grupo Catalana Occidente has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 31% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Bottom Line On Grupo Catalana Occidente's P/E Ratio

Grupo Catalana Occidente trades on a P/E ratio of 9.7, which is below the ES market average of 17.1. It grew its EPS nicely over the last year, and the healthy balance sheet implies there is more potential for growth. The relatively low P/E ratio implies the market is pessimistic.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E 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.