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Should You Be Tempted To Sell China Flavors and Fragrances Company Limited (HKG:3318) Because Of Its P/E Ratio?

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how China Flavors and Fragrances Company Limited's (HKG:3318) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. What is China Flavors and Fragrances's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 9.56. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 10.5%.

Check out our latest analysis for China Flavors and Fragrances

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price (in reporting currency) ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for China Flavors and Fragrances:

P/E of 9.56 = HK$1.35 (Note: this is the share price in the reporting currency, namely, CNY ) ÷ HK$0.14 (Based on the year to June 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each HK$1 of company 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 China Flavors and Fragrances Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that China Flavors and Fragrances has a higher P/E than the average (6.2) P/E for companies in the chemicals industry.

SEHK:3318 Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 4th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that China Flavors and Fragrances shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn't guaranteed. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

China Flavors and Fragrances's earnings per share fell by 16% in the last twelve months. But EPS is up 1.6% over the last 5 years.

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

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. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

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).

China Flavors and Fragrances's Balance Sheet

China Flavors and Fragrances has net debt worth 99% of its market capitalization. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you should absolutely keep in mind it has significant borrowings.

The Verdict On China Flavors and Fragrances's P/E Ratio

China Flavors and Fragrances's P/E is 9.6 which is about average (10.1) in the HK market. With significant debt and no EPS growth last year, the P/E suggests shareholders are expecting higher profit in the future.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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.

You might be able to find a better buy than China Flavors and Fragrances. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.

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. Thank you for reading.