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Is Mastech Digital Inc’s (NYSEMKT:MHH) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Mastech Digital Inc’s (NYSEMKT:MHH) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Based on the last twelve months, Mastech Digital’s P/E ratio is 10.95. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $10.95 for every $1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for Mastech Digital

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Mastech Digital:

P/E of 10.95 = $6.69 ÷ $0.61 (Based on the year to September 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. 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 Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

Notably, Mastech Digital grew EPS by a whopping 311% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 3 years is 12%. So we’d generally expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 3.2% a year, over 5 years.

How Does Mastech Digital’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that Mastech Digital has a lower P/E than the average (23.1) P/E for companies in the professional services industry.

AMEX:MHH PE PEG Gauge November 12th 18

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Mastech Digital shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

How Does Mastech Digital’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Net debt totals 55% of Mastech Digital’s market cap. This is enough debt that you’d have to make some adjustments before using the P/E ratio to compare it to a company with net cash.

The Verdict On Mastech Digital’s P/E Ratio

Mastech Digital’s P/E is 10.9 which is below average (18.2) in the US market. The company has a meaningful amount of debt on the balance sheet, but that should not eclipse the solid earnings growth. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified.

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 might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Mastech Digital. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.