This article is intended for those of you who are at the beginning of your investing journey and want to begin learning about how to value company based on its current earnings and what are the drawbacks of this method.
Owens-Illinois Inc (NYSE:OI) is currently trading at a trailing P/E of 18.7, which is close to the industry average of 18.7. While this makes OI appear like a great stock to buy, you might change your mind after I explain the assumptions behind the P/E ratio. In this article, I will explain what the P/E ratio is as well as what you should look out for when using it.
Breaking down the P/E ratio
The P/E ratio is a popular ratio used in relative valuation since earnings power is a key driver of investment value. It compares a stock’s price per share to the stock’s earnings per share. A more intuitive way of understanding the P/E ratio is to think of it as how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.
P/E Calculation for OI
Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share
OI Price-Earnings Ratio = $16.44 ÷ $0.880 = 18.7x
The P/E ratio itself doesn’t tell you a lot; however, it becomes very insightful when you compare it with other similar companies. We preferably want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar features to OI, such as capital structure and profitability. A quick method of creating a peer group is to use companies in the same industry, which is what I will do. Owens-Illinois Inc (NYSE:OI) trades on a trailing P/E of 18.7. This isn’t too far from the industry average (which is 18.7). This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 15 Packaging companies in US including WestRock, International Paper and Silgan Holdings. You can think of it like this: the market is suggesting that OI has similar prospects to its peers in the same industry.
Assumptions to watch out for
Before you jump to conclusions it is important to realise that our assumptions rests on two assertions. The first is that our “similar companies” are actually similar to OI, or else the difference in P/E might be a result of other factors. For example, if you compared lower risk firms with OI, then investors would naturally value it at a lower price since it is a riskier investment. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing OI to are fairly valued by the market. If this is violated, OI’s P/E may be lower than its peers as they are actually overvalued by investors.
What this means for you:
You may have already conducted fundamental analysis on the stock as a shareholder, so its current undervaluation could signal a good buying opportunity to increase your exposure to OI. Now that you understand the ins and outs of the PE metric, you should know to bear in mind its limitations before you make an investment decision. Remember that basing your investment decision off one metric alone is certainly not sufficient. There are many things I have not taken into account in this article and the PE ratio is very one-dimensional. If you have not done so already, I highly recommend you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for OI’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for OI’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has OI been consistently performing well irrespective of the ups and downs in the market? Go into more detail in the past performance analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of OI’s historicals for more clarity.
- Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.