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Why Edwards Lifesciences Corporation's (NYSE:EW) High P/E Ratio Isn't Necessarily A Bad Thing

Simply Wall St

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Edwards Lifesciences Corporation's (NYSE:EW), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Based on the last twelve months, Edwards Lifesciences's P/E ratio is 64.60. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $64.60 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Edwards Lifesciences

How Do I Calculate Edwards Lifesciences's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Edwards Lifesciences:

P/E of 64.60 = $224.81 ÷ $3.48 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Is A High P/E 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 is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

How Does Edwards Lifesciences's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. As you can see below, Edwards Lifesciences has a higher P/E than the average company (39.7) in the medical equipment industry.

NYSE:EW Price Estimation Relative to Market, October 10th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Edwards Lifesciences shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn't guaranteed. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Most would be impressed by Edwards Lifesciences earnings growth of 12% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 3 years is 12%. So one might expect an above average P/E ratio.

Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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.

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

How Does Edwards Lifesciences's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Since Edwards Lifesciences holds net cash of US$340m, it can spend on growth, justifying a higher P/E ratio than otherwise.

The Verdict On Edwards Lifesciences's P/E Ratio

With a P/E ratio of 64.6, Edwards Lifesciences is expected to grow earnings very strongly in the years to come. Its strong balance sheet gives the company plenty of resources for extra growth, and it has already proven it can grow. So it does not seem strange that the P/E is above average.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

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

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.