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A Rising Share Price Has Us Looking Closely At PBF Energy Inc's (NYSE:PBF) P/E Ratio

Simply Wall St

Those holding PBF Energy (NYSE:PBF) shares must be pleased that the share price has rebounded 93% in the last thirty days. But unfortunately, the stock is still down by 58% over a quarter. However, that doesn't change the fact that longer term shareholders might have been mercilessly wrecked by the 67% share price decline throughout the 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). 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.

Check out our latest analysis for PBF Energy

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

PBF Energy's P/E of 4.29 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. If you look at the image below, you can see PBF Energy has a lower P/E than the average (9.9) in the oil and gas industry classification.

NYSE:PBF Price Estimation Relative to Market May 1st 2020

PBF Energy's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

PBF Energy's earnings made like a rocket, taking off 140% last year. And earnings per share have improved by 15% annually, over the last three years. So we'd absolutely expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.

Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

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.

How Does PBF Energy's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

PBF Energy has net debt worth 87% of its market capitalization. This is a reasonably significant level of debt -- all else being equal you'd expect a much lower P/E than if it had net cash.

The Bottom Line On PBF Energy's P/E Ratio

PBF Energy has a P/E of 4.3. That's below the average in the US market, which is 14.9. The company has a meaningful amount of debt on the balance sheet, but that should not eclipse the solid earnings growth. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified. What we know for sure is that investors are becoming less uncomfortable about PBF Energy's prospects, since they have pushed its P/E ratio from 2.2 to 4.3 over the last month. For those who like to invest in turnarounds, that might mean it's time to put the stock on a watchlist, or research it. But others might consider the opportunity to have passed.

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. So this free visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E 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.