Adams Resources & Energy Inc (AMEX:AE) is trading with a trailing P/E of 124.5x, which is higher than the industry average of 14x. Although some investors may jump to the conclusion that you should avoid the stock or sell if you own it, understanding the assumptions behind the P/E ratio might change your mind. Today, I will explain what the P/E ratio is as well as what you should look out for when using it. View our latest analysis for Adams Resources & Energy
Breaking down the P/E ratio
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 AE
Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share
AE Price-Earnings Ratio = $44.74 ÷ $0.359 = 124.5x
On its own, the P/E ratio doesn’t tell you much; however, it becomes extremely useful when you compare it with other similar companies. We want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar characteristics as AE, such as size and country of operation. A common peer group is companies that exist in the same industry, which is what I use. At 124.5x, AE’s P/E is higher than its industry peers (14x). This implies that investors are overvaluing each dollar of AE’s earnings. As such, our analysis shows that AE represents an over-priced stock.
Assumptions to watch out for
Before you jump to the conclusion that AE should be banished from your portfolio, it is important to realise that our conclusion rests on two assertions. The first is that our “similar companies” are actually similar to AE, or else the difference in P/E might be a result of other factors. For example, if you compared higher growth firms with AE, then its P/E would naturally be lower since investors would reward its peers’ higher growth with a higher price. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing AE to are fairly valued by the market. If this does not hold true, AE’s lower P/E ratio may be because firms in our peer group are 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 overvaluation could signal a potential selling opportunity to reduce your exposure to AE. 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:
- Financial Health: Is AE’s operations financially sustainable? Balance sheets can be hard to analyze, which is why we’ve done it for you. Check out our financial health checks here.
- Past Track Record: Has AE 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 AE’s historicals for more clarity.
- 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 pass 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.