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Read This Before You Buy ZK International Group Co., Ltd. (NASDAQ:ZKIN) 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). To keep it practical, we’ll show how ZK International Group Co., Ltd.’s (NASDAQ:ZKIN) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. ZK International Group has a price to earnings ratio of 3.05, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $3.05 for every $1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for ZK International Group

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 ZK International Group:

P/E of 3.05 = $1.62 ÷ $0.53 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 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

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

ZK International Group shrunk earnings per share by 5.2% last year.

How Does ZK International Group’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see ZK International Group has a lower P/E than the average (8.3) in the metals and mining industry classification.

NasdaqCM:ZKIN PE PEG Gauge December 12th 18

This suggests that market participants think ZK International Group will underperform other companies in its industry. 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.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. 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 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.

Is Debt Impacting ZK International Group’s P/E?

ZK International Group has net debt worth a very significant 125% of its market capitalization. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you must keep in mind that these debt levels would usually warrant a relatively low P/E.

The Bottom Line On ZK International Group’s P/E Ratio

ZK International Group’s P/E is 3.1 which is below average (17.1) in the US market. The P/E reflects market pessimism that probably arises from the lack of recent EPS growth, paired with significant leverage.

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.’ We don’t have analyst forecasts, but you could get a better understanding of its growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

You might be able to find a better buy than ZK International Group. 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.