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Why A-Living Services Co., Ltd.'s (HKG:3319) High P/E Ratio Isn't Necessarily A Bad Thing

Simply Wall St

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at A-Living Services Co., Ltd.'s (HKG:3319) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Based on the last twelve months, A-Living Services's P/E ratio is 26.45. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 3.8%.

View our latest analysis for A-Living Services

How Do I Calculate A-Living Services's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share (in the reporting currency) ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for A-Living Services:

P/E of 26.45 = HK$20.04 (Note: this is the share price in the reporting currency, namely, CNY ) ÷ HK$0.76 (Based on the year to June 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 A-Living Services Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. As you can see below, A-Living Services has a higher P/E than the average company (13.2) in the commercial services industry.

SEHK:3319 Price Estimation Relative to Market, October 9th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that A-Living Services shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. 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. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

A-Living Services's 64% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. The sweetener is that the annual five year growth rate of 67% is also impressive. With that kind of growth rate we would generally expect a high P/E ratio.

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

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

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

How Does A-Living Services's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

With net cash of CN¥4.5b, A-Living Services has a very strong balance sheet, which may be important for its business. Having said that, at 17% of its market capitalization the cash hoard would contribute towards a higher P/E ratio.

The Verdict On A-Living Services's P/E Ratio

A-Living Services's P/E is 26.4 which is above average (10.3) in its market. Its net cash position is the cherry on top of its superb EPS growth. To us, this is the sort of company that we would expect to carry an above average price tag (relative to earnings).

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, 'In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine. 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 A-Living Services. 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.