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Why Corcept Therapeutics Incorporated's (NASDAQ:CORT) High P/E Ratio Isn't Necessarily A Bad Thing

Simply Wall St

Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Corcept Therapeutics Incorporated's (NASDAQ:CORT), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Corcept Therapeutics has a P/E ratio of 17.95. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 5.6%.

View our latest analysis for Corcept Therapeutics

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Corcept Therapeutics:

P/E of 17.95 = $13.60 ÷ $0.76 (Based on the year to September 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing 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.

Does Corcept Therapeutics Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. As you can see below Corcept Therapeutics has a P/E ratio that is fairly close for the average for the pharmaceuticals industry, which is 17.2.

NasdaqCM:CORT Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 4th 2019

Corcept Therapeutics's P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. So if Corcept Therapeutics actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Further research into factors such as insider buying and selling, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

Corcept Therapeutics saw earnings per share decrease by 42% last year. But EPS is up 164% over the last 3 years.

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. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

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 Corcept Therapeutics's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Corcept Therapeutics has net cash of US$232m. This is fairly high at 15% 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 Corcept Therapeutics's P/E Ratio

Corcept Therapeutics trades on a P/E ratio of 17.9, which is fairly close to the US market average of 18.1. Although the recent drop in earnings per share would keep the market cautious, the healthy balance sheet means the company retains potential for future growth. So it's not surprising to see it trade on a P/E roughly in line with the market.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. 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.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Corcept Therapeutics. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.