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Should You Be Tempted To Sell Park Lawn Corporation (TSE:PLC) Because Of Its P/E Ratio?

Simply Wall St

Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Park Lawn Corporation's (TSE:PLC), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Park Lawn has a price to earnings ratio of 61.27, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 1.6%.

See our latest analysis for Park Lawn

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Park Lawn:

P/E of 61.27 = CA$25.31 ÷ CA$0.41 (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 CA$1 of company earnings. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

Does Park Lawn 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 Park Lawn has a higher P/E than the average (26.4) P/E for companies in the consumer services industry.

TSX:PLC Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 2nd 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Park Lawn shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. 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

If earnings fall then in the future the 'E' will be lower. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others -- and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

Park Lawn's earnings made like a rocket, taking off 107% last year. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 7.2% a year, over 5 years.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. 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 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.

Park Lawn's Balance Sheet

Net debt totals just 5.8% of Park Lawn's market cap. So it doesn't have as many options as it would with net cash, but its debt would not have much of an impact on its P/E ratio.

The Bottom Line On Park Lawn's P/E Ratio

Park Lawn's P/E is 61.3 which suggests the market is more focussed on the future opportunity rather than the current level of earnings. Its debt levels do not imperil its balance sheet and its EPS growth is very healthy indeed. So on this analysis a high P/E ratio seems reasonable.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. 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 Park Lawn. 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 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.