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Is Swire Properties Limited’s (HKG:1972) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

Arjun Bhatia

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll show how you can use Swire Properties Limited’s (HKG:1972) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Based on the last twelve months, Swire Properties’s P/E ratio is 4.08. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 24%.

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How Do You Calculate Swire Properties’s P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Swire Properties:

P/E of 4.08 = HK$28.2 ÷ HK$6.91 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. 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.

Swire Properties increased earnings per share by a whopping 65% last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 26%. I’d therefore be a little surprised if its P/E ratio was not relatively high.

How Does Swire Properties’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (5.5) for companies in the real estate industry is higher than Swire Properties’s P/E.

SEHK:1972 PE PEG Gauge January 18th 19

This suggests that market participants think Swire Properties 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. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

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

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).

Is Debt Impacting Swire Properties’s P/E?

Net debt totals 20% of Swire Properties’s market cap. That’s enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you’re comparing it to companies without debt.

The Bottom Line On Swire Properties’s P/E Ratio

Swire Properties’s P/E is 4.1 which is below average (10.5) in the HK market. The company hasn’t stretched its balance sheet, and earnings growth was good last year. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold they key to an excellent investment decision.

But note: Swire Properties 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).

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.