To the annoyance of some shareholders, YGM Trading (HKG:375) shares are down a considerable 30% in the last month. That drop has capped off a tough year for shareholders, with the share price down 38% in that time.
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. 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). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.
How Does YGM Trading's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 8.07 that sentiment around YGM Trading isn't particularly high. The image below shows that YGM Trading has a lower P/E than the average (8.9) P/E for companies in the luxury industry.
YGM Trading's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same 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 even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.
YGM Trading's earnings per share fell by 40% in the last twelve months. And over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have decreased 16% annually. This growth rate might warrant a below average P/E ratio.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. 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.
How Does YGM Trading's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
With net cash of HK$357m, YGM Trading has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 49% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.
The Verdict On YGM Trading's P/E Ratio
YGM Trading has a P/E of 8.1. That's below the average in the HK market, which is 10.2. The recent drop in earnings per share would almost certainly temper expectations, the relatively strong balance sheet will allow the company time to invest in growth. If it achieves that, then there's real potential that the low P/E could eventually indicate undervaluation. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become more pessimistic about YGM Trading over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 11.6 back then to 8.1 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 shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than YGM Trading. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.