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 Qudian Inc.'s (NYSE:QD) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Qudian has a P/E ratio of 4.16, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $4.16 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.
How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price (in reporting currency) ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Qudian:
P/E of 4.16 = $49.04 (Note: this is the share price in the reporting currency, namely, CNY ) ÷ $11.80 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)
Is A High P/E Ratio Good?
A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each $1 of company earnings. That isn't necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.
How Does Qudian's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that Qudian has a lower P/E than the average (8.3) P/E for companies in the consumer finance industry.
Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Qudian shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. 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. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. 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.
Notably, Qudian grew EPS by a whopping 33% in the last year. And it has improved its earnings per share by 75% per year over the last three years. I'd therefore be a little surprised if its P/E ratio was not relatively high.
Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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.
While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.
So What Does Qudian's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Qudian's net debt is 8.9% of its market cap. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.
The Verdict On Qudian's P/E Ratio
Qudian has a P/E of 4.2. That's below the average in the US market, which is 17.6. The company does have a little debt, and EPS growth was good last year. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue. Because analysts are predicting more growth in the future, one might have expected to see a higher P/E ratio. You can take a closer look at the fundamentals, here.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.