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Should You Be Tempted To Sell OraSure Technologies Inc (NASDAQ:OSUR) Because Of Its PE Ratio?

Gabriel Boyd

The content of this article will benefit those of you who are starting to educate yourself about investing in the stock market and want to start learning about core concepts of fundamental analysis on practical examples from today’s market.

OraSure Technologies Inc (NASDAQ:OSUR) is trading with a trailing P/E of 64.4, which is higher than the industry average of 53. Although some investors may see this as unappealing, it is important to understand the assumptions behind the P/E ratio before making judgments. Today, I will deconstruct the P/E ratio and highlight what you need to be careful of when using the P/E ratio.

See our latest analysis for OraSure Technologies

What you need to know about the P/E ratio

NasdaqGS:OSUR PE PEG Gauge September 14th 18

The P/E ratio is a popular ratio used in relative valuation since earnings power is a key driver of investment value. By comparing a stock’s price per share to its earnings per share, we are able to see how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

P/E Calculation for OSUR

Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share

OSUR Price-Earnings Ratio = $16.01 ÷ $0.249 = 64.4x

The P/E ratio isn’t a metric you view in isolation and only becomes useful when you compare it against other similar companies. Our goal is to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar attributes to OSUR, such as company lifetime and products sold. One way of gathering a peer group is to use firms in the same industry, which is what I’ll do. Since OSUR’s P/E of 64.4 is higher than its industry peers (53), it means that investors are paying more for each dollar of OSUR’s earnings. This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 25 Medical Equipment companies in US including Escalon Medical, Lantheus Holdings and Fonar. You could also say that the market is suggesting that OSUR is a stronger business than the average comparable company.

Assumptions to be aware of

However, it is important to note that our examination of the stock is based on certain assumptions. The first is that our “similar companies” are actually similar to OSUR. If not, the difference in P/E might be a result of other factors. For example, OraSure Technologies Inc could be growing more quickly than the companies we’re comparing it with. In that case it would deserve a higher P/E ratio. We should also be aware that the stocks we are comparing to OSUR may not be fairly valued. Just because it is trading on a higher P/E ratio than its peers does not mean it must be overvalued. After all, the peer group could be undervalued.

What this means for you:

Since you may have already conducted your due diligence on OSUR, the overvaluation of the stock may mean it is a good time to reduce your current holdings. But at the end of the day, keep in mind that relative valuation relies heavily on critical assumptions I’ve outlined above. Remember that basing your investment decision off one metric alone is certainly not sufficient. There are many things I have not taken into account in this article and the PE ratio is very one-dimensional. If you have not done so already, I urge you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for OSUR’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for OSUR’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has OSUR been consistently performing well irrespective of the ups and downs in the market? Go into more detail in the past performance analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of OSUR’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

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.