It's really great to see that even after a strong run, Beluga Group (MCX:BELU) shares have been powering on, with a gain of 35% in the last thirty days. Zooming out, the annual gain of 122% knocks our socks off.
Assuming no other changes, a sharply higher share price makes a stock less attractive to potential buyers. In the long term, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, but in the short term prices bounce around in response to short term factors (which are not always obvious). The implication here is that deep value investors might steer clear when expectations of a company are too high. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E implies that investors have high expectations of what a company can achieve compared to a company with a low P/E ratio.
Does Beluga Group Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
Beluga Group's P/E of 13.25 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. The image below shows that Beluga Group has a lower P/E than the average (20.2) P/E for companies in the beverage industry.
This suggests that market participants think Beluga Group will underperform other companies in its industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with Beluga Group, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.
Beluga Group's 59% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. Even better, EPS is up 76% per year over three years. So you might say it really deserves to have an above-average P/E ratio.
Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).
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 Beluga Group's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Beluga Group's net debt is considerable, at 115% of its market cap. This level of debt justifies a relatively low P/E, so remain cognizant of the debt, if you're comparing it to other stocks.
The Verdict On Beluga Group's P/E Ratio
Beluga Group trades on a P/E ratio of 13.3, which is above its market average of 8.8. Its meaningful level of debt should warrant a lower P/E ratio, but the fast EPS growth is a positive. So despite the debt it is, perhaps, not unreasonable to see a high P/E ratio. What is very clear is that the market has become more optimistic about Beluga Group over the last month, with the P/E ratio rising from 9.8 back then to 13.3 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. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. We don't have analyst forecasts, but 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 Beluga 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).
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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