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Read This Before You Buy Eutelsat Communications S.A. (EPA:ETL) Because Of Its P/E Ratio

Simply Wall St

Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. To keep it practical, we'll show how Eutelsat Communications S.A.'s (EPA:ETL) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Based on the last twelve months, Eutelsat Communications's P/E ratio is 12.93. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying €12.93 for every €1 in prior year profit.

Check out our latest analysis for Eutelsat Communications

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 Eutelsat Communications:

P/E of 12.93 = €15.72 ÷ €1.22 (Based on the year to June 2019.)

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. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

Does Eutelsat Communications Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see Eutelsat Communications has a lower P/E than the average (14.6) in the media industry classification.

ENXTPA:ETL Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 19th 2019

This suggests that market participants think Eutelsat Communications will underperform other companies in its industry. 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.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

If earnings fall then in the future the 'E' will be lower. 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.

Eutelsat Communications's earnings per share fell by 11% in the last twelve months. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 2.5% per year over the last five years. This could justify a pessimistic P/E.

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

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

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.

Eutelsat Communications's Balance Sheet

Net debt totals 70% of Eutelsat Communications's market cap. 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 Eutelsat Communications's P/E Ratio

Eutelsat Communications has a P/E of 12.9. That's below the average in the FR market, which is 16.8. Given meaningful debt, and a lack of recent growth, the market looks to be extrapolating this recent performance; reflecting low expectations for the future.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

You might be able to find a better buy than Eutelsat Communications. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.