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When Should You Sell Brocade Communications Systems Inc (BRCD)?

Will Harmon

Brocade Communications Systems Inc (NASDAQ:BRCD) is trading with a trailing P/E of 162.5x, which is higher than the industry average of 28.2x. Although some investors may jump to the conclusion that you should avoid the stock or sell if you own it, understanding the assumptions behind the P/E ratio might change your mind. In this article, I will explain what the P/E ratio is as well as what you should look out for when using it. Check out our latest analysis for Brocade Communications Systems

Demystifying the P/E ratio

NasdaqGS:BRCD PE PEG Gauge Oct 4th 17

P/E is often used for relative valuation since earnings power is a chief driver of investment value. By comparing a stock’s price per share to its earnings per share, we are able to see how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

P/E Calculation for BRCD

Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share

BRCD Price-Earnings Ratio = 12.16 ÷ 0.075 = 162.5x

On its own, the P/E ratio doesn’t tell you much; however, it becomes extremely useful when you compare it with other similar companies. We want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar characteristics as BRCD, such as size and country of operation. A common peer group is companies that exist in the same industry, which is what I use. At 162.5x, BRCD’s P/E is higher than its industry peers (28.2x). This implies that investors are overvaluing each dollar of BRCD’s earnings. As such, our analysis shows that BRCD represents an over-priced stock.

Assumptions to watch out for

Before you jump to the conclusion that BRCD should be banished from your portfolio, it is important to realise that our conclusion rests on two assertions. The first is that our “similar companies” are actually similar to BRCD, or else the difference in P/E might be a result of other factors. For example, if you are comparing lower risk firms with BRCD, then its P/E would naturally be lower than its peers, as investors would value those with lower risk at a higher price. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing BRCD to are fairly valued by the market. If this does not hold, there is a possibility that BRCD’s P/E is lower because our peer group is overvalued by the market.

What this means for you:

Are you a shareholder? If your personal research into the stock confirms what the P/E ratio is telling you, it might be a good time to rebalance your portfolio and reduce your holdings in BRCD. But keep in mind that the usefulness of relative valuation depends on whether you are comfortable with making the assumptions I mentioned above.

Are you a potential investor? If BRCD has been on your watch list for a while, it is best you also consider its intrinsic valuation. Looking at PE on its own will not give you the full picture of the stock as an investment, so I suggest you should also look at other relative valuation metrics like EV/EBITDA or PEG.

PE is one aspect of your portfolio construction to consider when holding or entering into a stock. But it is certainly not the only factor. Take a look at our most recent infographic report on Brocade Communications Systems for a more in-depth analysis of the stock to help you make a well-informed investment decision. Since we know a limitation of PE is it doesn't properly account for growth, you can use our free platform to see my list of stocks with a high growth potential and see if their PE is still reasonable.

To help readers see pass the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned.