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Is RPC, Inc.'s (NYSE:RES) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use RPC, Inc.'s (NYSE:RES) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. RPC has a P/E ratio of 18.81, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 5.3%.

Check out our latest analysis for RPC

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for RPC:

P/E of 18.81 = $6.01 ÷ $0.32 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. That isn't a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business's prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

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

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. As you can see below RPC has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the energy services industry, which is 19.1.

NYSE:RES Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 14th 2019
NYSE:RES Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 14th 2019

That indicates that the market expects RPC will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. Checking factors such as director buying and selling. could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

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. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

RPC saw earnings per share decrease by 70% last year. And EPS is down 19% a year, over the last 5 years. This growth rate might warrant a below average P/E ratio.

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

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

Is Debt Impacting RPC's P/E?

The extra options and safety that comes with RPC's US$48m net cash position means that it deserves a higher P/E than it would if it had a lot of net debt.

The Verdict On RPC's P/E Ratio

RPC trades on a P/E ratio of 18.8, which is above its market average of 17.3. The recent drop in earnings per share would make some investors cautious, but the healthy balance sheet means the company retains potential for future growth. If fails to eventuate, the current high P/E could prove to be temporary, as the share price falls.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: RPC 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).

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.

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. Thank you for reading.