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A Sliding Share Price Has Us Looking At Australis Oil & Gas Limited's (ASX:ATS) P/E Ratio

Simply Wall St

To the annoyance of some shareholders, Australis Oil & Gas (ASX:ATS) shares are down a considerable 35% in the last month. Given the 74% drop over the last year, some shareholders might be worried that they have become bagholders. What is a bagholder? It is a shareholder who has suffered a bad loss, but continues to hold indefinitely, without questioning their reasons for holding, even as the losses grow greater.

Assuming nothing else has changed, a lower share price makes a stock more attractive to potential buyers. 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. So, on certain occasions, long term focussed investors try to take advantage of pessimistic expectations to buy shares at a better price. 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). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.

See our latest analysis for Australis Oil & Gas

Does Australis Oil & Gas Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

Australis Oil & Gas's P/E of 11.28 indicates some degree of optimism towards the stock. The image below shows that Australis Oil & Gas has a higher P/E than the average (10.2) P/E for companies in the oil and gas industry.

ASX:ATS Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 4th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Australis Oil & Gas shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. 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. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Australis Oil & Gas's earnings made like a rocket, taking off 469% last year.

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

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 Australis Oil & Gas's P/E?

With net cash of US$12m, Australis Oil & Gas has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 20% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Verdict On Australis Oil & Gas's P/E Ratio

Australis Oil & Gas's P/E is 11.3 which is below average (18.3) in the AU market. Not only should the net cash position reduce risk, but the recent growth has been impressive. The relatively low P/E ratio implies the market is pessimistic. Because analysts are predicting more growth in the future, one might have expected to see a higher P/E ratio. You can take a closer look at the fundamentals, here. Given Australis Oil & Gas's P/E ratio has declined from 17.3 to 11.3 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is significantly less confident about the business today, than it was back then. 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. 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 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.