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Why Saputo Inc.'s (TSE:SAP) High P/E Ratio Isn't Necessarily A Bad Thing

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at Saputo Inc.'s (TSE:SAP) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. What is Saputo's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 20.69. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying CA$20.69 for every CA$1 in prior year profit.

See our latest analysis for Saputo

How Do I Calculate Saputo's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Saputo:

P/E of 20.69 = CA$40.37 ÷ CA$1.95 (Based on the year to September 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each CA$1 of company 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 Saputo Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. The image below shows that Saputo has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the food industry average (20.7).

TSX:SAP Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 24th 2019

Saputo's P/E tells us that market participants think its prospects are roughly in line with its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. I would further inform my view by checking insider buying and selling., among other things.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Saputo had pretty flat EPS growth in the last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 6.3% per year over the last five years.

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

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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 Saputo's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Saputo has net debt worth 22% of its market capitalization. This could bring some additional risk, and reduce the number of investment options for management; worth remembering if you compare its P/E to businesses without debt.

The Verdict On Saputo's P/E Ratio

Saputo's P/E is 20.7 which is above average (15.9) in its market. Given the debt is only modest, and earnings are already moving in the right direction, it's not surprising that the market expects continued improvement.

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

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Saputo. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.