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Read This Before You Buy Hexcel Corporation (NYSE:HXL) Because Of Its P/E Ratio

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 Hexcel Corporation’s (NYSE:HXL) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Based on the last twelve months, Hexcel’s P/E ratio is 18.39. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $18.39 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Hexcel

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Hexcel:

P/E of 18.39 = $61.67 ÷ $3.35 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings 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

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. 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.

Hexcel increased earnings per share by an impressive 20% over the last twelve months. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 11%. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio.

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

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see Hexcel has a lower P/E than the average (22.2) in the aerospace & defense industry classification.

NYSE:HXL PE PEG Gauge December 3rd 18

Hexcel’s P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same 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).

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

Hexcel’s net debt is 18% of its market cap. That’s enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you’re comparing it to companies without debt.

The Verdict On Hexcel’s P/E Ratio

Hexcel has a P/E of 18.4. That’s around the same as the average in the US market, which is 18. With only modest debt levels, and strong earnings growth, the market seems to doubt that the growth can be maintained.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

You might be able to find a better buy than Hexcel. 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).

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.