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Here's How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand Advanced Share Registry Limited (ASX:ASW)

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 Advanced Share Registry Limited's (ASX:ASW) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. What is Advanced Share Registry's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 19.85. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 5.0%.

Check out our latest analysis for Advanced Share Registry

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 Advanced Share Registry:

P/E of 19.85 = AUD0.69 ÷ AUD0.03 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 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 necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

How Does Advanced Share Registry's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Advanced Share Registry has a lower P/E than the average (22.7) P/E for companies in the capital markets industry.

ASX:ASW Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 2nd 2020

This suggests that market participants think Advanced Share Registry will underperform other companies in its industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with Advanced Share Registry, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the 'E' in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others -- and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

Advanced Share Registry shrunk earnings per share by 35% over the last year. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 1.1% per year over the last five years. This might lead to muted expectations.

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. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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.

How Does Advanced Share Registry's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Advanced Share Registry has net cash of AU$3.9m. This is fairly high at 13% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.

The Bottom Line On Advanced Share Registry's P/E Ratio

Advanced Share Registry trades on a P/E ratio of 19.9, which is fairly close to the AU market average of 18.7. While the lack of recent growth is probably muting optimism, the relatively strong balance sheet will allow the company to weather a storm; so it isn't very surprising to see that it has a P/E ratio close to the market average.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. We don't have analyst forecasts, but shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

You might be able to find a better buy than Advanced Share Registry. 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).

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.