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Is Tetra Tech Inc’s (NASDAQ:TTEK) PE Ratio A Signal To Sell For Investors?

This analysis is intended to introduce important early concepts to people who are starting to invest and want to learn about the link between company’s fundamentals and stock market performance.

Tetra Tech Inc (NASDAQ:TTEK) trades with a trailing P/E of 26.9, which is higher than the industry average of 22.6. While this might not seem positive, it is important to understand the assumptions behind the P/E ratio before you make any investment decisions. In this article, I will deconstruct the P/E ratio and highlight what you need to be careful of when using the P/E ratio.

What you need to know about the P/E ratio

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 TTEK

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

TTEK Price-Earnings Ratio = \$68.59 ÷ \$2.549 = 26.9x

The P/E ratio itself doesn’t tell you a lot; however, it becomes very insightful when you compare it with other similar companies. We want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar characteristics as TTEK, such as size and country of operation. A common peer group is companies that exist in the same industry, which is what I use. At 26.9, TTEK’s P/E is higher than its industry peers (22.6). This implies that investors are overvaluing each dollar of TTEK’s earnings. This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 25 Commercial Services companies in US including QPS Die Cutters and Finishers, Pointer Telocation and Covanta Holding. You could also say that the market is suggesting that TTEK is a stronger business than the average comparable company.

Assumptions to watch out for

However, it is important to note that our examination of the stock is based on certain assumptions. Firstly, that our peer group contains companies that are similar to TTEK. If this isn’t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to other factors. Take, for example, the scenario where Tetra Tech Inc is growing profits more quickly than the average comparable company. In that case, the market may be correct to value it on a higher P/E ratio. Of course, it is possible that the stocks we are comparing with TTEK are not fairly valued. Thus while we might conclude that it is richly valued relative to its peers, that could be explained by the peer group being undervalued.

What this means for you:

If your personal research into the stock confirms what the P/E ratio is telling you, it might be a good time to rebalance your portfolio and reduce your holdings in TTEK. But keep in mind that the usefulness of relative valuation depends on whether you are comfortable with making the assumptions I mentioned 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 highly recommend you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for TTEK’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for TTEK’s outlook.
2. Past Track Record: Has TTEK 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 TTEK’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.

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