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Here’s How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand Republic Services, Inc. (NYSE:RSG)

Autumn Haas

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at Republic Services, Inc.’s (NYSE:RSG) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. Republic Services has a P/E ratio of 17.37, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 5.8%.

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How Do You Calculate Republic Services’s P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Republic Services:

P/E of 17.37 = $73.85 ÷ $4.25 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. All else being equal, it’s better to pay a low price — but as Warren Buffett said, ‘It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.’

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. 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.

Republic Services increased earnings per share by a whopping 79% last year. And it has bolstered its earnings per share by 20% per year over the last five years. With that performance, I would expect it to have an above average P/E ratio.

How Does Republic Services’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 Republic Services has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the commercial services industry average (18.4).

NYSE:RSG PE PEG Gauge January 17th 19

Its P/E ratio suggests that Republic Services shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. Checking factors such as the tenure of the board and management could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future), by taking on debt (or spending its remaining cash).

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).

Republic Services’s Balance Sheet

Republic Services has net debt worth 35% of its market capitalization. This is a reasonably significant level of debt — all else being equal you’d expect a much lower P/E than if it had net cash.

The Bottom Line On Republic Services’s P/E Ratio

Republic Services’s P/E is 17.4 which is about average (16.8) in the US market. When you consider the impressive EPS growth last year (along with some debt), it seems the market has questions about whether rapid EPS growth will be sustained.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. People often underestimate remarkable growth — so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: Republic Services 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).

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.