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Why First Derivatives plc’s (LON:FDP) High P/E Ratio Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at First Derivatives plc’s (LON:FDP) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. First Derivatives has a price to earnings ratio of 50.39, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 2.0%.

Check out our latest analysis for First Derivatives

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for First Derivatives:

P/E of 50.39 = £22.8 ÷ £0.45 (Based on the trailing twelve months to August 2018.)

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 isn’t necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the ‘E’ in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.

First Derivatives increased earnings per share by a whopping 31% last year. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 1.4% a year, over 5 years.

How Does First Derivatives’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (30.6) for companies in the it industry is lower than First Derivatives’s P/E.

AIM:FDP PE PEG Gauge November 28th 18

First Derivatives’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn’t guaranteed. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

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

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. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future), by taking on debt (or spending its remaining 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 First Derivatives’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Net debt totals just 4.0% of First Derivatives’s market cap. 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 Bottom Line On First Derivatives’s P/E Ratio

First Derivatives trades on a P/E ratio of 50.4, which is multiples above the GB market average of 15.7. The company is not overly constrained by its modest debt levels, and it is growing earnings per share. Therefore it seems reasonable that the market would have relatively high expectations of the company

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 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 First Derivatives. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.