Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. To keep it practical, we'll show how Agile Group Holdings Limited's (HKG:3383) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Agile Group Holdings has a price to earnings ratio of 4.85, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying HK$4.85 for every HK$1 in prior year profit.
How Do I Calculate Agile Group Holdings's Price To Earnings 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 Agile Group Holdings:
P/E of 4.85 = CNY10.54 (Note: this is the share price in the reporting currency, namely, CNY ) ÷ CNY2.17 (Based on the year to June 2019.)
Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?
A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.
Does Agile Group Holdings Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (7.0) for companies in the real estate industry is higher than Agile Group Holdings's P/E.
Agile Group Holdings's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with Agile Group Holdings, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and 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.
Agile Group Holdings increased earnings per share by 6.5% last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 9.6% per year over the last five 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. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.
Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.
How Does Agile Group Holdings's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Agile Group Holdings has net debt worth a very significant 139% 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 Verdict On Agile Group Holdings's P/E Ratio
Agile Group Holdings has a P/E of 4.8. That's below the average in the HK market, which is 10.6. While the recent EPS growth is a positive, the significant amount of debt on the balance sheet may be contributing to pessimistic market expectations.
Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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 be able to find a better stock than Agile Group Holdings. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.