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Should You Be Tempted To Sell New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership (NYSEMKT:NEN) 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 New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership's (NYSEMKT:NEN) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. What is New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 39.08. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $39.08 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership:

P/E of 39.08 = $58 ÷ $1.48 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each $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.'

How Does New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. As you can see below, New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership has a higher P/E than the average company (16.9) in the real estate industry.

AMEX:NEN Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 19th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn't guaranteed. 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

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership increased earnings per share by an impressive 23% over the last twelve months. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 61%. So one might expect an above average P/E ratio.

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

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

How Does New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership has net debt worth a very significant 112% of its market capitalization. This level of debt justifies a relatively low P/E, so remain cognizant of the debt, if you're comparing it to other stocks.

The Verdict On New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership's P/E Ratio

New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership has a P/E of 39.1. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 17.2. While the meaningful level of debt does limit its options, it has achieved solid growth over the last year. It seems the market believes growth will continue, judging by the P/E ratio.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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.' We don't have analyst forecasts, but shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than New England Realty Associates Limited Partnership. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.