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Is NN Group N.V.'s (AMS:NN) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

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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 NN Group N.V.'s (AMS:NN) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. NN Group has a P/E ratio of 11.53, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying €11.53 for every €1 in prior year profit.

See our latest analysis for NN Group

How Do I Calculate NN Group's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for NN Group:

P/E of 11.53 = €36.4 ÷ €3.16 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each €1 of company 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

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the 'E' in the equation. That means unless the share price falls, the P/E will increase in a few years. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others -- and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

NN Group saw earnings per share decrease by 49% last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 30% per year over the last five years. And EPS is down 11% a year, over the last 3 years. This growth rate might warrant a low P/E ratio.

Does NN Group 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. If you look at the image below, you can see NN Group has a lower P/E than the average (12.8) in the insurance industry classification.

ENXTAM:NN Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 14th 2019

This suggests that market participants think NN Group will underperform other companies in its industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

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

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. 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.

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).

Is Debt Impacting NN Group's P/E?

NN Group's net debt is 4.4% 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 NN Group's P/E Ratio

NN Group's P/E is 11.5 which is below average (17.5) in the NL market. With only modest debt, it's likely the lack of EPS growth at least partially explains the pessimism implied by the P/E ratio.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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.' So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E 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.