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Why Perrigo Company plc’s (NYSE:PRGO) High P/E Ratio Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing

Simply Wall St

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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll show how you can use Perrigo Company plc’s (NYSE:PRGO) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Perrigo has a price to earnings ratio of 49.2, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 2.0%.

Check out our latest analysis for Perrigo

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Perrigo:

P/E of 49.2 = $46.77 ÷ $0.95 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High P/E 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 Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Perrigo increased earnings per share by an impressive 13% over the last twelve months. And earnings per share have improved by 48% annually, over the last three years. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio. Unfortunately, earnings per share are down 27% a year, over 5 years.

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

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (17.1) for companies in the pharmaceuticals industry is lower than Perrigo’s P/E.

NYSE:PRGO Price Estimation Relative to Market, March 26th 2019

That means that the market expects Perrigo will outperform other companies in its industry. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

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

Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

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 Perrigo’s Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Perrigo’s net debt is 42% of its market cap. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you should absolutely keep in mind it has significant borrowings.

The Verdict On Perrigo’s P/E Ratio

Perrigo trades on a P/E ratio of 49.2, which is above the US market average of 17.2. While the company does use modest debt, its recent earnings growth is impressive. Therefore it seems reasonable that the market would have relatively high expectations of the company

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is better than it expects, you can make money by buying and holding for the long term. 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 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.

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.