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Should You Be Tempted To Sell Wilhelmina International, Inc. (NASDAQ:WHLM) Because Of Its P/E Ratio?

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The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Wilhelmina International, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:WHLM), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Based on the last twelve months, Wilhelmina International's P/E ratio is 47.30. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $47.30 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Wilhelmina International

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 Wilhelmina International:

P/E of 47.30 = $5.50 ÷ $0.12 (Based on the trailing twelve months 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 $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.

How Does Wilhelmina International's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Wilhelmina International has a higher P/E than the average (25.4) P/E for companies in the commercial services industry.

NasdaqCM:WHLM Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 23rd 2019
NasdaqCM:WHLM Price Estimation Relative to Market, September 23rd 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Wilhelmina International 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. That means unless the share price falls, the P/E will increase in a few years. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others -- and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

Wilhelmina International shrunk earnings per share by 21% over the last year. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 29% per year over the last five years. This might lead to muted expectations.

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

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

Is Debt Impacting Wilhelmina International's P/E?

Wilhelmina International has net cash of US$3.7m. This is fairly high at 13% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.

The Bottom Line On Wilhelmina International's P/E Ratio

Wilhelmina International has a P/E of 47.3. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 17.9. Falling earnings per share is probably keeping traditional value investors away, but the net cash position means the company has time to improve: and the high P/E suggests the market thinks it will.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. Although we don't have analyst forecasts you could get a better understanding of its growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Wilhelmina International. 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.