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Why Qantas Airways Limited’s (ASX:QAN) High P/E Ratio Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll show how you can use Qantas Airways Limited’s (ASX:QAN) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Qantas Airways has a price to earnings ratio of 10.25, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 9.8%.

Check out our latest analysis for Qantas Airways

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Qantas Airways:

P/E of 10.25 = A$5.72 ÷ A$0.56 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

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 isn’t a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business’s prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

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 even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Most would be impressed by Qantas Airways earnings growth of 21% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 53%. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio.

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

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (9.6) for companies in the airlines industry is roughly the same as Qantas Airways’s P/E.

ASX:QAN PE PEG Gauge December 9th 18

That indicates that the market expects Qantas Airways will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. So if Qantas Airways actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Checking factors such as the tenure of the board and management could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

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. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).

Is Debt Impacting Qantas Airways’s P/E?

Net debt totals 37% of Qantas Airways’s 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 Bottom Line On Qantas Airways’s P/E Ratio

Qantas Airways’s P/E is 10.2 which is below average (15.1) in the AU market. The company does have a little debt, and EPS growth was good last year. If it continues to grow, then the current low P/E may prove to be unjustified.

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 visual report on analyst forecasts could hold they key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Qantas Airways. 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.