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Should You Be Tempted To Buy SAP SE (FRA:SAP) Because Of Its PE Ratio?

This analysis is intended to introduce important early concepts to people who are starting to invest and want to start learning about core concepts of fundamental analysis on practical examples from today’s market.

SAP SE (FRA:SAP) is currently trading at a trailing P/E of 29.8x, which is lower than the industry average of 51.9x. While SAP might seem like an attractive stock to buy, it is important to understand the assumptions behind the P/E ratio before you make any investment decisions. Today, I will deconstruct the P/E ratio and highlight what you need to be careful of when using the P/E ratio.

View our latest analysis for SAP

Breaking down the P/E ratio

DB:SAP PE PEG Gauge October 3rd 18

The P/E ratio is one of many ratios used in relative valuation. It compares a stock’s price per share to the stock’s earnings per share. A more intuitive way of understanding the P/E ratio is to think of it as how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

P/E Calculation for SAP

Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share

SAP Price-Earnings Ratio = €106.08 ÷ €3.564 = 29.8x

The P/E ratio isn’t a metric you view in isolation and only becomes useful when you compare it against other similar companies. Our goal is to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar attributes to SAP, such as company lifetime and products sold. One way of gathering a peer group is to use firms in the same industry, which is what I’ll do. Since SAP’s P/E of 29.8 is lower than its industry peers (51.9), it means that investors are paying less for each dollar of SAP’s earnings. This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 21 Software companies in DE including Cliq Digital, B+S Banksysteme and CENIT. You can think of it like this: the market is suggesting that SAP is a weaker business than the average comparable company.

A few caveats

However, there are two important assumptions you should be aware of. Firstly, our peer group contains companies that are similar to SAP. If this isn’t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to other factors. For example, if you compared lower risk firms with SAP, then investors would naturally value it at a lower price since it is a riskier investment. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing SAP to are fairly valued by the market. If this does not hold, there is a possibility that SAP’s P/E is lower because our peer group is overvalued by the market.

What this means for you:

You may have already conducted fundamental analysis on the stock as a shareholder, so its current undervaluation could signal a good buying opportunity to increase your exposure to SAP. Now that you understand the ins and outs of the PE metric, you should know to bear in mind its limitations before you make an investment decision. Remember that basing your investment decision off one metric alone is certainly not sufficient. There are many things I have not taken into account in this article and the PE ratio is very one-dimensional. If you have not done so already, I urge you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for SAP’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for SAP’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has SAP been consistently performing well irrespective of the ups and downs in the market? Go into more detail in the past performance analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of SAP’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

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.