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A Rising Share Price Has Us Looking Closely At Catalent, Inc.'s (NYSE:CTLT) P/E Ratio

Simply Wall St

Those holding Catalent (NYSE:CTLT) shares must be pleased that the share price has rebounded 46% in the last thirty days. But unfortunately, the stock is still down by 7.8% over a quarter. And the full year gain of 33% isn't too shabby, either!

All else being equal, a sharp share price increase should make a stock less attractive to potential investors. 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. 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.

View our latest analysis for Catalent

Does Catalent Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

We can tell from its P/E ratio of 66.34 that there is some investor optimism about Catalent. As you can see below, Catalent has a much higher P/E than the average company (21.6) in the pharmaceuticals industry.

NYSE:CTLT Price Estimation Relative to Market April 15th 2020

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Catalent shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So further research is always essential. 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. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. 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.

Catalent's earnings per share fell by 13% in the last twelve months. But it has grown its earnings per share by 5.4% per year over the last five years.

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. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

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).

So What Does Catalent's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Catalent has net debt equal to 29% of its market cap. While it's worth keeping this in mind, it isn't a worry.

The Bottom Line On Catalent's P/E Ratio

Catalent's P/E is 66.3 which suggests the market is more focussed on the future opportunity rather than the current level of earnings. With a bit of debt, but a lack of recent growth, it's safe to say the market is expecting improved profit performance from the company, in the next few years. What is very clear is that the market has become significantly more optimistic about Catalent over the last month, with the P/E ratio rising from 45.6 back then to 66.3 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. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Catalent. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.