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Should You Be Tempted To Sell Tourism Holdings Limited (NZSE:THL) 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 show how you can use Tourism Holdings Limited's (NZSE:THL) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Based on the last twelve months, Tourism Holdings's P/E ratio is 14.59. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying NZ$14.59 for every NZ$1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for Tourism Holdings

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Tourism Holdings:

P/E of 14.59 = NZ$3.45 ÷ NZ$0.24 (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. That isn't a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business's prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

Does Tourism Holdings Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (14.5) for companies in the transportation industry is roughly the same as Tourism Holdings's P/E.

NZSE:THL Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 3rd 2020

That indicates that the market expects Tourism Holdings will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. Further research into factors such as insider buying and selling, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

Tourism Holdings shrunk earnings per share by 54% over the last year. But EPS is up 19% over the last 5 years.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

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. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

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.

So What Does Tourism Holdings's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Tourism Holdings has net debt equal to 41% of its market cap. You'd want to be aware of this fact, but it doesn't bother us.

The Bottom Line On Tourism Holdings's P/E Ratio

Tourism Holdings trades on a P/E ratio of 14.6, which is below the NZ market average of 19.4. Since it only carries a modest debt load, it's likely the low expectations implied by the P/E ratio arise from the lack of recent earnings growth.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.