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Here's How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand T-Mobile US, Inc. (NASDAQ:TMUS)

Simply Wall St

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at T-Mobile US, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:TMUS) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. T-Mobile US has a price to earnings ratio of 20.68, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying $20.68 for every $1 in prior year profit.

See our latest analysis for T-Mobile US

How Do You Calculate T-Mobile US's P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for T-Mobile US:

P/E of 20.68 = USD81.44 ÷ USD3.94 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 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. All else being equal, it's better to pay a low price -- but as Warren Buffett said, 'It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price'.

How Does T-Mobile US's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that T-Mobile US has a lower P/E than the average (22.9) P/E for companies in the wireless telecom industry.

NasdaqGS:TMUS Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 17th 2020

T-Mobile US's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

T-Mobile US shrunk earnings per share by 32% over the last year. But EPS is up 90% over the last 5 years.

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

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. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on 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 T-Mobile US's P/E?

T-Mobile US's net debt equates to 36% of its market capitalization. While that's enough to warrant consideration, it doesn't really concern us.

The Verdict On T-Mobile US's P/E Ratio

T-Mobile US has a P/E of 20.7. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 19.1. With modest debt but no EPS growth in the last year, it's fair to say the P/E implies some optimism about future earnings, from the market.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

You might be able to find a better buy than T-Mobile US. 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.