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Is Vail Resorts Inc’s (NYSE:MTN) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

I am writing today to help inform people who are new to the stock market and want to learn about the link between company’s fundamentals and stock market performance.

Vail Resorts Inc (NYSE:MTN) is trading with a trailing P/E of 25.3, which is higher than the industry average of 16.1. 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 explain what the P/E ratio is as well as what you should look out for when using it.

See our latest analysis for Vail Resorts

Breaking down the Price-Earnings ratio

NYSE:MTN PE PEG Gauge October 29th 18

P/E is often used for relative valuation since earnings power is a chief driver of investment value. It compares a stock’s price per share to the stock’s earnings per share. A more intuitive way of understanding the P/E ratio is to think of it as how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

P/E Calculation for MTN

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

MTN Price-Earnings Ratio = $237.9 ÷ $9.404 = 25.3x

On its own, the P/E ratio doesn’t tell you much; however, it becomes extremely useful when you compare it with other similar companies. Our goal is to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar attributes to MTN, 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 MTN’s P/E of 25.3 is higher than its industry peers (16.1), it means that investors are paying more for each dollar of MTN’s earnings. This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 25 Hospitality companies in US including China Enterprises, Caesars Entertainment and Speedway Motorsports. You could think of it like this: the market is pricing MTN as if it is a stronger company than the average of its industry group.

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 MTN. If this isn’t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to other factors. For example, if Vail Resorts Inc is growing faster than its peers, then it would deserve a higher P/E ratio. We should also be aware that the stocks we are comparing to MTN may not be 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:

You may have already conducted fundamental analysis on the stock as a shareholder, so its current overvaluation could signal a potential selling opportunity to reduce your exposure to MTN. Now that you understand the ins and outs of the PE metric, you should know to bear in mind its limitations before you make an investment decision. 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 MTN’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for MTN’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has MTN 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 MTN’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.