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A Sliding Share Price Has Us Looking At SPT Energy Group Inc.'s (HKG:1251) P/E Ratio

Simply Wall St

Unfortunately for some shareholders, the SPT Energy Group (HKG:1251) share price has dived 38% in the last thirty days. Indeed the recent decline has arguably caused some bitterness for shareholders who have held through the 39% drop over twelve months.

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. So, on certain occasions, long term focussed investors try to take advantage of pessimistic expectations to buy shares at a better price. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock 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.

Check out our latest analysis for SPT Energy Group

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

We can tell from its P/E ratio of 4.49 that sentiment around SPT Energy Group isn't particularly high. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (5.5) for companies in the energy services industry is higher than SPT Energy Group's P/E.

SEHK:1251 Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 16th 2020

This suggests that market participants think SPT Energy Group will underperform other companies in its industry. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. 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.

SPT Energy Group's 95% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. Regrettably, the longer term performance is poor, with EPS down 17% per year over 5 years.

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. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

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.

How Does SPT Energy Group's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

SPT Energy Group has net debt worth just 0.9% of its market capitalization. So it doesn't have as many options as it would with net cash, but its debt would not have much of an impact on its P/E ratio.

The Bottom Line On SPT Energy Group's P/E Ratio

SPT Energy Group has a P/E of 4.5. That's below the average in the HK market, which is 9.2. The EPS growth last year was strong, and debt levels are quite reasonable. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified. Since analysts are predicting growth will continue, one might expect to see a higher P/E so it may be worth looking closer. Given SPT Energy Group's P/E ratio has declined from 7.3 to 4.5 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is more worried about the business today, than it was back then. 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 should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

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.