This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Matas A/S's (CPH:MATAS), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Matas has a P/E ratio of 9.47, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying DKK9.47 for every DKK1 in prior year profit.
Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!
How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?
The formula for P/E is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Matas:
P/E of 9.47 = DKK65.7 ÷ DKK6.94 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)
Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?
The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing earnings. 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 Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
If earnings fall then in the future the 'E' will be lower. That means unless the share price falls, the P/E will increase in a few years. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.
Matas's earnings per share fell by 13% in the last twelve months. And EPS is down 9.4% a year, over the last 3 years. This could justify a low P/E.
Does Matas Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (12.8) for companies in the specialty retail industry is higher than Matas's P/E.
Matas's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. You 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
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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 Matas's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Net debt totals 60% of Matas's market cap. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you should absolutely keep in mind it has significant borrowings.
The Bottom Line On Matas's P/E Ratio
Matas has a P/E of 9.5. That's below the average in the DK market, which is 16.6. Given meaningful debt, and a lack of recent growth, the market looks to be extrapolating this recent performance; reflecting low expectations for the future.
Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.