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A Sliding Share Price Has Us Looking At Southern Energy Holdings Group Limited's (HKG:1573) P/E Ratio

Simply Wall St

Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Southern Energy Holdings Group (HKG:1573) share price has dived 33% in the last thirty days. And that drop will have no doubt have some shareholders concerned that the 94% share price decline, over the last year, has turned them into 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.

All else being equal, a share price drop should make a stock more attractive to potential investors. In the long term, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, but in the short term prices bounce around in response to short term factors (which are not always obvious). 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). 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Southern Energy Holdings Group

How Does Southern Energy Holdings Group's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

Southern Energy Holdings Group's P/E of 2.18 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. If you look at the image below, you can see Southern Energy Holdings Group has a lower P/E than the average (4.9) in the oil and gas industry classification.

SEHK:1573 Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 19th 2020

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Southern Energy Holdings Group shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Since the market seems unimpressed with Southern Energy Holdings Group, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

If earnings fall then in the future the 'E' will be lower. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.

Southern Energy Holdings Group's earnings per share fell by 17% in the last twelve months. And EPS is down 4.3% a year, over the last 3 years. This could justify a low P/E.

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. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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.

Southern Energy Holdings Group's Balance Sheet

Southern Energy Holdings Group has net cash of CN¥72m. This is fairly high at 16% 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 Bottom Line On Southern Energy Holdings Group's P/E Ratio

Southern Energy Holdings Group has a P/E of 2.2. That's below the average in the HK market, which is 8.6. 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. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become more pessimistic about Southern Energy Holdings Group over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 3.2 back then to 2.2 today. For those who prefer invest in growth, this stock apparently offers limited promise, but the deep value investors may find the pessimism around this stock enticing.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. Although we don't have analyst forecasts you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But note: Southern Energy Holdings Group 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.