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Here's How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand OGE Energy Corp. (NYSE:OGE)

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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 apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to OGE Energy Corp.'s (NYSE:OGE), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Based on the last twelve months, OGE Energy's P/E ratio is 20.97. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $20.97 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for OGE Energy

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for OGE Energy:

P/E of 20.97 = $42.7 ÷ $2.04 (Based on the year to June 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. 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.'

Does OGE Energy 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 (23.1) for companies in the electric utilities industry is higher than OGE Energy's P/E.

NYSE:OGE Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 28th 2019
NYSE:OGE Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 28th 2019

OGE Energy'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. 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. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

OGE Energy saw earnings per share decrease by 37% last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 20% per year over the last three years.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

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

Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).

How Does OGE Energy's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

OGE Energy has net debt equal to 39% of its market cap. While that's enough to warrant consideration, it doesn't really concern us.

The Bottom Line On OGE Energy's P/E Ratio

OGE Energy's P/E is 21 which is above average (17) in its market. With some debt but no EPS growth last year, the market has high expectations of future profits.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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 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.