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Do You Know What Lindsay Australia Limited's (ASX:LAU) P/E Ratio Means?

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use Lindsay Australia Limited's (ASX:LAU) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Lindsay Australia has a P/E ratio of 11.65, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 8.6%.

View our latest analysis for Lindsay Australia

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 Lindsay Australia:

P/E of 11.65 = A$0.35 ÷ A$0.03 (Based on the trailing twelve months 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 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 Does Lindsay Australia's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

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 (15.9) for companies in the transportation industry is higher than Lindsay Australia's P/E.

ASX:LAU Price Estimation Relative to Market, November 28th 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Lindsay Australia shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Since the market seems unimpressed with Lindsay Australia, 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. 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.

Lindsay Australia increased earnings per share by 9.3% last year. And earnings per share have improved by 1.3% annually, over the last five years.

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

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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).

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.

Lindsay Australia's Balance Sheet

Lindsay Australia's net debt is 2.5% of its market cap. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.

The Bottom Line On Lindsay Australia's P/E Ratio

Lindsay Australia's P/E is 11.6 which is below average (18.7) in the AU market. The company hasn't stretched its balance sheet, and earnings are improving. 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 visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

But note: Lindsay Australia 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.