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Here's How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK)

Simply Wall St

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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at Stryker Corporation's (NYSE:SYK) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Stryker has a price to earnings ratio of 20.55, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 4.9%.

See our latest analysis for Stryker

How Do You Calculate Stryker's P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Stryker:

P/E of 20.55 = $195.17 ÷ $9.5 (Based on the year to December 2018.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

It's nice to see that Stryker grew EPS by a stonking 248% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 20%. So we'd generally expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.

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

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (39.8) for companies in the medical equipment industry is higher than Stryker's P/E.

NYSE:SYK Price Estimation Relative to Market, April 4th 2019

Stryker'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. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

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

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

Stryker's Balance Sheet

Net debt totals just 8.5% of Stryker's market cap. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Bottom Line On Stryker's P/E Ratio

Stryker has a P/E of 20.5. That's higher than the average in the US market, which is 17.7. Its debt levels do not imperil its balance sheet and it has already proven it can grow. So it does not seem strange that the P/E is above average.

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.

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.