mDR (SGX:A27) shareholders are no doubt pleased to see that the share price has had a great month, posting a 100% gain, recovering from prior weakness. Looking back a bit further, we're also happy to report the stock is up 100% in the last year.
All else being equal, a sharp share price increase should make a stock less attractive to potential investors. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that deep value investors might steer clear when expectations of a company are too high. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors' expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E ratio means that investors have a high expectation about future growth, while a low P/E ratio means they have low expectations about future growth.
How Does mDR's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
mDR's P/E of 19.42 indicates some degree of optimism towards the stock. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (12.2) for companies in the electronic industry is lower than mDR's P/E.
That means that the market expects mDR will outperform other companies in its industry. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the 'E' in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.
mDR's earnings per share fell by 38% in the last twelve months. And over the longer term (3 years) earnings per share have decreased 21% annually. This could justify a low 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. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.
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.
Is Debt Impacting mDR's P/E?
mDR's net debt is 24% of its 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 Verdict On mDR's P/E Ratio
mDR has a P/E of 19.4. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 13.2. With modest debt but no EPS growth in the last year, it's fair to say the P/E implies some optimism about future earnings, from the market. What is very clear is that the market has become significantly more optimistic about mDR over the last month, with the P/E ratio rising from 9.7 back then to 19.4 today. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might mean it's time to put the stock on a watchlist, or research it. But the contrarian may see it as a missed opportunity.
When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. Although we don't have analyst forecasts you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
You might be able to find a better buy than mDR. 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).
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.
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. Thank you for reading.