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A Rising Share Price Has Us Looking Closely At Wagners Holding Company Limited's (ASX:WGN) P/E Ratio

Simply Wall St

It's really great to see that even after a strong run, Wagners Holding (ASX:WGN) shares have been powering on, with a gain of 31% 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. 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.

See our latest analysis for Wagners Holding

How Does Wagners Holding's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

Wagners Holding's P/E of 32.71 indicates some degree of optimism towards the stock. As you can see below, Wagners Holding has a higher P/E than the average company (26.0) in the basic materials industry.

ASX:WGN Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 19th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Wagners Holding shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. 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

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Wagners Holding's earnings per share fell by 54% in the last twelve months.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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).

Wagners Holding's Balance Sheet

Wagners Holding has net debt worth 17% of its market capitalization. That's enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you're comparing it to companies without debt.

The Verdict On Wagners Holding's P/E Ratio

Wagners Holding trades on a P/E ratio of 32.7, which is above its market average of 18.7. 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 we know for sure is that investors have become much more excited about Wagners Holding recently, since they have pushed its P/E ratio from 24.9 to 32.7 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. 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 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.