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Here's How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand JB Foods Limited (SGX:BEW)

Simply Wall St

Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll look at JB Foods Limited's (SGX:BEW) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. JB Foods has a price to earnings ratio of 6.25, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay SGD6.25 for every SGD1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for JB Foods

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share (in the reporting currency) ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for JB Foods:

P/E of 6.25 = USD0.49 (Note: this is the share price in the reporting currency, namely, USD ) ÷ USD0.08 (Based on the year 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 USD1 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 JB Foods's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. If you look at the image below, you can see JB Foods has a lower P/E than the average (17.1) in the food industry classification.

SGX:BEW Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 14th 2020

This suggests that market participants think JB Foods will underperform other companies in its industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with JB Foods, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

JB Foods shrunk earnings per share by 26% over the last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 52% per year over the last three years.

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

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

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.

JB Foods's Balance Sheet

JB Foods has net debt worth a very significant 107% of its market capitalization. This level of debt justifies a relatively low P/E, so remain cognizant of the debt, if you're comparing it to other stocks.

The Bottom Line On JB Foods's P/E Ratio

JB Foods's P/E is 6.3 which is below average (13.5) in the SG market. Given meaningful debt, and a lack of recent growth, the market looks to be extrapolating this recent performance; reflecting low expectations for the future.

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. We don't have analyst forecasts, but you could get a better understanding of its growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But note: JB Foods may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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.