Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll show how you can use Digi International Inc.'s (NASDAQ:DGII) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Digi International has a P/E ratio of 36.91. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $36.91 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.
How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Digi International:
P/E of 36.91 = $14.24 ÷ $0.39 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)
Is A High P/E Ratio Good?
A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. 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 Digi International Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. As you can see below, Digi International has a higher P/E than the average company (30.6) in the communications industry.
Digi International's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the 'E' in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others -- and that may encourage shareholders to sell.
Digi International's earnings made like a rocket, taking off 294% last year. The sweetener is that the annual five year growth rate of 24% is also impressive. With that kind of growth rate we would generally expect a high P/E ratio. Regrettably, the longer term performance is poor, with EPS down -24% per year over 3 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. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.
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 Digi International's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
With net cash of US$86m, Digi International has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 22% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.
The Bottom Line On Digi International's P/E Ratio
Digi International trades on a P/E ratio of 36.9, which is above its market average of 18.1. The excess cash it carries is the gravy on top its fast EPS growth. To us, this is the sort of company that we would expect to carry an above average price tag (relative to earnings).
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 Digi International. 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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.