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Here's How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand Computacenter plc (LON:CCC)

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at Computacenter plc's (LON:CCC) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Computacenter has a P/E ratio of 24.79, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 4.0%.

See our latest analysis for Computacenter

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 Computacenter:

P/E of 24.79 = £18.08 ÷ £0.73 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

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 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.

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

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (29.8) for companies in the it industry is higher than Computacenter's P/E.

LSE:CCC Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 22nd 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Computacenter shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. 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.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Computacenter's earnings per share grew by -2.6% in the last twelve months. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 12% per year over the last five years.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. 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.

Is Debt Impacting Computacenter's P/E?

The extra options and safety that comes with Computacenter's UK£40k net cash position means that it deserves a higher P/E than it would if it had a lot of net debt.

The Bottom Line On Computacenter's P/E Ratio

Computacenter trades on a P/E ratio of 24.8, which is above its market average of 17.9. Recent earnings growth wasn't bad. Also positive, the relatively strong balance sheet will allow for investment in growth -- and the P/E indicates shareholders that will happen!

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Computacenter. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.