Wenzhou Kangning Hospital (HKG:2120) shares have had a really impressive month, gaining 31%, after some slippage. But shareholders may not all be feeling jubilant, since the share price is still down 32% in the last year.
Assuming no other changes, a sharply higher share price makes a stock less attractive to potential buyers. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that deep value investors might steer clear when expectations of a company are too high. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors' expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E implies that investors have high expectations of what a company can achieve compared to a company with a low P/E ratio.
How Does Wenzhou Kangning Hospital's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
Wenzhou Kangning Hospital's P/E of 17.82 indicates some degree of optimism towards the stock. As you can see below, Wenzhou Kangning Hospital has a higher P/E than the average company (16.5) in the healthcare industry.
Wenzhou Kangning Hospital's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.
Wenzhou Kangning Hospital increased earnings per share by a whopping 40% last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 9.9%. So we'd generally expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.
Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on 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.
How Does Wenzhou Kangning Hospital's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Wenzhou Kangning Hospital's net debt is 11% of its market cap. It would probably deserve a higher P/E ratio if it was net cash, since it would have more options for growth.
The Bottom Line On Wenzhou Kangning Hospital's P/E Ratio
Wenzhou Kangning Hospital trades on a P/E ratio of 17.8, which is above its market average of 10.6. While the company does use modest debt, its recent earnings growth is superb. So on this analysis a high P/E ratio seems reasonable. What we know for sure is that investors have become more excited about Wenzhou Kangning Hospital recently, since they have pushed its P/E ratio from 13.6 to 17.8 over the last month. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might mean it's time to put the stock on a watchlist, or research it. But the contrarian may see it as a missed opportunity.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 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.
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