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Why The Children's Place, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:PLCE) High P/E Ratio Isn't Necessarily A Bad Thing

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how The Children's Place, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:PLCE) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Based on the last twelve months, Children's Place's P/E ratio is 17.73. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 5.6%.

See our latest analysis for Children's Place

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 Children's Place:

P/E of 17.73 = $80.61 ÷ $4.55 (Based on the trailing twelve months to May 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. That isn't necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

Does Children's Place 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 (13.4) for companies in the specialty retail industry is lower than Children's Place's P/E.

NasdaqGS:PLCE Price Estimation Relative to Market, August 20th 2019

Children's Place'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

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Children's Place's earnings per share fell by 1.1% in the last twelve months. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 16%.

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

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).

So What Does Children's Place's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Children's Place has net debt worth just 6.8% of its market capitalization. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Verdict On Children's Place's P/E Ratio

Children's Place's P/E is 17.7 which is about average (17.4) in the US market. Given it has some debt, but didn't grow last year, the P/E indicates the market is expecting higher profits ahead for the business.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

But note: Children's Place may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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.