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Why EZCORP, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:EZPW) High P/E Ratio Isn't Necessarily A Bad Thing

Simply Wall St
·4 min read

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 EZCORP, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:EZPW), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. EZCORP has a price to earnings ratio of 27.13, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $27.13 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for EZCORP

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 EZCORP:

P/E of 27.13 = $3.640 ÷ $0.134 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

(Note: the above calculation results may not be precise due to rounding.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. 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 EZCORP's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. As you can see below, EZCORP has a much higher P/E than the average company (4.4) in the consumer finance industry.

NasdaqGS:EZPW Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 19th 2020
NasdaqGS:EZPW Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 19th 2020

That means that the market expects EZCORP will outperform other companies in its industry. 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

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

EZCORP saw earnings per share decrease by 67% last year. But over the longer term (3 years), earnings per share have increased by 36%.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

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 EZCORP's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

EZCORP has net debt equal to 49% of its market cap. While that's enough to warrant consideration, it doesn't really concern us.

The Verdict On EZCORP's P/E Ratio

EZCORP trades on a P/E ratio of 27.1, which is above its market average of 11.8. With a bit of debt, but a lack of recent growth, it's safe to say the market is expecting improved profit performance from the company, in the next few years.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

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.

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.