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A Sliding Share Price Has Us Looking At Ark Restaurants Corp.'s (NASDAQ:ARKR) P/E Ratio

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Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Ark Restaurants (NASDAQ:ARKR) share price has dived 38% in the last thirty days. That drop has capped off a tough year for shareholders, with the share price down 30% in that time.

All else being equal, a share price drop should make a stock more attractive to potential investors. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock 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.

View our latest analysis for Ark Restaurants

How Does Ark Restaurants's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

Ark Restaurants's P/E of 11.65 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. The image below shows that Ark Restaurants has a lower P/E than the average (14.0) P/E for companies in the hospitality industry.

NasdaqGM:ARKR Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 14th 2020
NasdaqGM:ARKR Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 14th 2020

This suggests that market participants think Ark Restaurants will underperform other companies in its 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

When earnings fall, the 'E' decreases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others -- and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

Notably, Ark Restaurants grew EPS by a whopping 41% in the last year. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 4.4% a year, over 5 years.

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. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in 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.

So What Does Ark Restaurants's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Ark Restaurants has net debt equal to 37% of its market cap. You'd want to be aware of this fact, but it doesn't bother us.

The Verdict On Ark Restaurants's P/E Ratio

Ark Restaurants trades on a P/E ratio of 11.7, which is below the US market average of 13.8. The EPS growth last year was strong, and debt levels are quite reasonable. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become significantly less optimistic about Ark Restaurants over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 18.7 back then to 11.7 today. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might be a bad sign, but for a contrarian, it may signal opportunity.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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. Although we don't have analyst forecasts shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But note: Ark Restaurants 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).

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.