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Here's How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand Quidel Corporation (NASDAQ:QDEL)

Simply Wall St

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use Quidel Corporation's (NASDAQ:QDEL) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. What is Quidel's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 34.74. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 2.9%.

View our latest analysis for Quidel

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Quidel:

P/E of 34.74 = $64.51 ÷ $1.86 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each $1 of company earnings. 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 Does Quidel's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. The image below shows that Quidel has a lower P/E than the average (45.7) P/E for companies in the medical equipment industry.

NasdaqGS:QDEL Price Estimation Relative to Market, November 19th 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Quidel shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Since the market seems unimpressed with Quidel, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Quidel's earnings made like a rocket, taking off 86% last year.

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

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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.

So What Does Quidel's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Quidel has net cash of US$8.2m. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.

The Bottom Line On Quidel's P/E Ratio

Quidel trades on a P/E ratio of 34.7, which is above its market average of 18.2. Its net cash position is the cherry on top of its superb EPS growth. So based on this analysis we'd expect Quidel to have a high P/E ratio.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

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

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.