To the annoyance of some shareholders, Cogobuy Group (HKG:400) shares are down a considerable 35% in the last month. Given the 76% 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. 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). The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. 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.
How Does Cogobuy Group's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 10.26 that sentiment around Cogobuy Group isn't particularly high. The image below shows that Cogobuy Group has a lower P/E than the average (18.0) P/E for companies in the online retail industry.
Cogobuy Group'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. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
When earnings fall, the 'E' decreases, over time. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others -- and that may encourage shareholders to sell.
Cogobuy Group shrunk earnings per share by 66% over the last year. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 12% per year over the last five years. This might lead to muted expectations.
Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. 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 Cogobuy Group's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Net debt totals just 8.3% of Cogobuy Group's market cap. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.
The Verdict On Cogobuy Group's P/E Ratio
Cogobuy Group trades on a P/E ratio of 10.3, which is above its market average of 8.6. With some debt but no EPS growth last year, the market has high expectations of future profits. Given Cogobuy Group's P/E ratio has declined from 15.8 to 10.3 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 don't like to trade against momentum, that could be a warning sign, but a contrarian investor might want to take a closer look.
Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. We don't have analyst forecasts, but you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.
But note: Cogobuy 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 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.
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