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Should You Be Tempted To Sell Bassett Furniture Industries, Incorporated (NASDAQ:BSET) Because Of Its P/E Ratio?

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Simply Wall St
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Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll look at Bassett Furniture Industries, Incorporated's (NASDAQ:BSET) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Based on the last twelve months, Bassett Furniture Industries's P/E ratio is 33.08. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $33.08 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Bassett Furniture Industries

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Bassett Furniture Industries:

P/E of 33.08 = $16.22 ÷ $0.49 (Based on the trailing twelve months to August 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing earnings. All else being equal, it's better to pay a low price -- but as Warren Buffett said, 'It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.

Does Bassett Furniture Industries Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. The image below shows that Bassett Furniture Industries has a higher P/E than the average (12.7) P/E for companies in the consumer durables industry.

NasdaqGS:BSET Price Estimation Relative to Market, November 8th 2019
NasdaqGS:BSET Price Estimation Relative to Market, November 8th 2019

Bassett Furniture Industries's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

When earnings fall, the 'E' decreases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.

Bassett Furniture Industries saw earnings per share decrease by 53% last year. And EPS is down 6.4% a year, over the last 5 years. This growth rate might warrant a below average P/E ratio.

Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. 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.

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

So What Does Bassett Furniture Industries's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

With net cash of US$32m, Bassett Furniture Industries has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 20% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Bottom Line On Bassett Furniture Industries's P/E Ratio

Bassett Furniture Industries trades on a P/E ratio of 33.1, which is above its market average of 18.3. Falling earnings per share is probably keeping traditional value investors away, but the net cash position means the company has time to improve: and the high P/E suggests the market thinks it will.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, 'In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine. So this free visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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.