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Do You Like BE Semiconductor Industries N.V. (AMS:BESI) At This P/E Ratio?

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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 BE Semiconductor Industries N.V.'s (AMS:BESI) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. BE Semiconductor Industries has a P/E ratio of 14.38, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 7.0%.

View our latest analysis for BE Semiconductor Industries

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 BE Semiconductor Industries:

P/E of 14.38 = €21.07 ÷ €1.47 (Based on the year to March 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings 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 is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. 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.

BE Semiconductor Industries saw earnings per share decrease by 41% last year. But EPS is up 41% over the last 5 years.

How Does BE Semiconductor Industries's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see BE Semiconductor Industries has a lower P/E than the average (25.7) in the semiconductor industry classification.

ENXTAM:BESI Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 29th 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that BE Semiconductor Industries shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

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

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. 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).

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

Is Debt Impacting BE Semiconductor Industries's P/E?

BE Semiconductor Industries has net cash of €170m. This is fairly high at 11% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.

The Verdict On BE Semiconductor Industries's P/E Ratio

BE Semiconductor Industries trades on a P/E ratio of 14.4, which is below the NL market average of 17.1. The recent drop in earnings per share would make investors cautious, the healthy balance sheet means the company retains potential for future growth. If that occurs, the current low P/E could prove to be temporary.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

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

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.