The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at Hurco Companies, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:HURC) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Hurco Companies has a P/E ratio of 8.25. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying $8.25 for every $1 in prior year profit.
How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Hurco Companies:
P/E of 8.25 = $32.48 ÷ $3.94 (Based on the trailing twelve months to April 2019.)
Is A High P/E 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.
Does Hurco Companies 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 (18.9) for companies in the machinery industry is higher than Hurco Companies's P/E.
This suggests that market participants think Hurco Companies will underperform other companies in its 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.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.
Hurco Companies's 53% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. The sweetener is that the annual five year growth rate of 24% is also impressive. So I'd be surprised if the P/E ratio was not above average.
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. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.
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 Hurco Companies's P/E?
Hurco Companies has net cash of US$70m. This is fairly high at 33% 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 Verdict On Hurco Companies's P/E Ratio
Hurco Companies has a P/E of 8.2. That's below the average in the US market, which is 17.3. The net cash position gives plenty of options to the business, and the recent improvement in EPS is good to see. The relatively low P/E ratio implies the market is pessimistic.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. We don't have analyst forecasts, but you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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.