U.S. Markets closed

A Rising Share Price Has Us Looking Closely At ULS Technology plc's (LON:ULS) P/E Ratio

Simply Wall St

It's really great to see that even after a strong run, ULS Technology (LON:ULS) shares have been powering on, with a gain of 30% in the last thirty days. But shareholders may not all be feeling jubilant, since the share price is still down 15% in the last year.

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). So some would prefer to hold off buying when there is a lot of optimism towards a stock. 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.

See our latest analysis for ULS Technology

How Does ULS Technology's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can tell from its P/E ratio of 11.93 that sentiment around ULS Technology isn't particularly high. The image below shows that ULS Technology has a lower P/E than the average (28.9) P/E for companies in the online retail industry.

AIM:ULS Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 12th 2020

This suggests that market participants think ULS Technology 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.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

ULS Technology's earnings per share fell by 7.4% in the last twelve months. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 18%.

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

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. 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).

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.

So What Does ULS Technology's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

ULS Technology has net debt worth just 9.4% of its market capitalization. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Bottom Line On ULS Technology's P/E Ratio

ULS Technology trades on a P/E ratio of 11.9, which is below the GB market average of 18.3. The debt levels are not a major concern, but the lack of EPS growth is likely weighing on sentiment. What we know for sure is that investors have become more excited about ULS Technology recently, since they have pushed its P/E ratio from 9.2 to 11.9 over the last month. 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.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

But note: ULS Technology may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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.

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.