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# Should You Be Tempted To Sell Genuine Parts Company (NYSE:GPC) Because Of Its P/E Ratio?

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). Weâ€™ll show how you can use Genuine Parts Companyâ€™s (NYSE:GPC) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Genuine Parts has a P/E ratio of 19.1, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay \$19.1 for every \$1 in trailing yearly profits.

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### How Do I Calculate Genuine Partsâ€™s Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share Ã· Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Genuine Parts:

P/E of 19.1 = \$95.27 Ã· \$4.99 (Based on the year to September 2018.)

### Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each \$1 the company has earned over the last year. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

### How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the â€˜Eâ€™ in the equation. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.

Itâ€™s great to see that Genuine Parts grew EPS by 11% in the last year.

### How Does Genuine Partsâ€™s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (19) for companies in the retail distributors industry is roughly the same as Genuine Partsâ€™s P/E.

That indicates that the market expects Genuine Parts will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. Further research into factors such asmanagement tenure, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.

### Remember: P/E Ratios Donâ€™t Consider The Balance Sheet

Donâ€™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. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in 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.

### Is Debt Impacting Genuine Partsâ€™s P/E?

Genuine Partsâ€™s net debt is 19% of its market cap. This could bring some additional risk, and reduce the number of investment options for management; worth remembering if you compare its P/E to businesses without debt.

### The Bottom Line On Genuine Partsâ€™s P/E Ratio

Genuine Partsâ€™s P/E is 19.1 which is above average (16.8) in the US market. While the company does use modest debt, its recent earnings growth is impressive. Therefore it seems reasonable that the market would have relatively high expectations of the company

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. People often underestimate remarkable growth â€” so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold they key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Genuine Parts. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

To help readers see past 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. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.