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Here's How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:SUPN)

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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 apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:SUPN), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. What is Supernus Pharmaceuticals's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 11.05. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying $11.05 for every $1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for Supernus Pharmaceuticals

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 Supernus Pharmaceuticals:

P/E of 11.05 = $22.33 ÷ $2.02 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each $1 of company earnings. 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.

How Does Supernus Pharmaceuticals'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 Supernus Pharmaceuticals has a lower P/E than the average (17.5) P/E for companies in the pharmaceuticals industry.

NasdaqGM:SUPN Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 16th 2019
NasdaqGM:SUPN Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 16th 2019

Supernus Pharmaceuticals'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

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. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Supernus Pharmaceuticals's earnings per share grew by -5.9% in the last twelve months. And it has improved its earnings per share by 5.9% per year over the last three years.

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

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

Is Debt Impacting Supernus Pharmaceuticals's P/E?

Net debt totals just 3.8% of Supernus Pharmaceuticals'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 Supernus Pharmaceuticals's P/E Ratio

Supernus Pharmaceuticals trades on a P/E ratio of 11.0, which is below the US market average of 18.6. EPS grew over the last twelve months, and debt levels are quite reasonable. The P/E ratio implies the market is cautious about longer term prospects.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

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.

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.