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Read This Before You Buy Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. (NYSE:HII) Because Of Its P/E Ratio

Simply Wall St

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc.'s (NYSE:HII) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. What is Huntington Ingalls Industries's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 11.57. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $11.57 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

View our latest analysis for Huntington Ingalls Industries

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 Huntington Ingalls Industries:

P/E of 11.57 = $215.01 ÷ $18.58 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing earnings. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

How Does Huntington Ingalls Industries's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (22.8) for companies in the aerospace & defense industry is higher than Huntington Ingalls Industries's P/E.

NYSE:HII Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 2nd 2019

This suggests that market participants think Huntington Ingalls Industries 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

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

In the last year, Huntington Ingalls Industries grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 63% gain was both fast and well deserved. The sweetener is that the annual five year growth rate of 25% is also impressive. With that kind of growth rate we would generally expect a high P/E ratio.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

Huntington Ingalls Industries's Balance Sheet

Net debt totals 16% of Huntington Ingalls Industries's market cap. This could bring some additional risk, and reduce the number of investment options for management; worth remembering if you compare its P/E to businesses without debt.

The Bottom Line On Huntington Ingalls Industries's P/E Ratio

Huntington Ingalls Industries has a P/E of 11.6. That's below the average in the US market, which is 17.7. The EPS growth last year was strong, and debt levels are quite reasonable. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue.

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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

You might be able to find a better buy than Huntington Ingalls Industries. 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.