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Do You Know What AGCO Corporation's (NYSE:AGCO) P/E Ratio Means?

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 show how you can use AGCO Corporation's (NYSE:AGCO) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Based on the last twelve months, AGCO's P/E ratio is 16.12. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 6.2%.

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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 AGCO:

P/E of 16.12 = $67.41 ÷ $4.18 (Based on the year to March 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing earnings. That isn't a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business's prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

AGCO's 51% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. Having said that, the average EPS growth over the last three years wasn't so good, coming in at 14%. On the other hand, the longer term performance is poor, with EPS down 6.9% per year over 5 years.

Does AGCO Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see AGCO has a lower P/E than the average (20.5) in the machinery industry classification.

NYSE:AGCO Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 20th 2019

This suggests that market participants think AGCO will underperform other companies in its industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with AGCO, 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.

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. 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.

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).

So What Does AGCO's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Net debt is 35% of AGCO's market cap. While that's enough to warrant consideration, it doesn't really concern us.

The Verdict On AGCO's P/E Ratio

AGCO's P/E is 16.1 which is below average (17.7) in the US market. The EPS growth last year was strong, and debt levels are quite reasonable. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue. Because analysts are predicting more growth in the future, one might have expected to see a higher P/E ratio. You can taker closer look at the fundamentals, here.

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 visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

But note: AGCO 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).

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.