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Should We Worry About Aaron's, Inc.'s (NYSE:AAN) P/E Ratio?

Simply Wall St

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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use Aaron's, Inc.'s (NYSE:AAN) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. What is Aaron's's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 18.72. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 5.3%.

See our latest analysis for Aaron's

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Aaron's:

P/E of 18.72 = $54.72 ÷ $2.92 (Based on the year to March 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings 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 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

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

Aaron's shrunk earnings per share by 29% over the last year. But EPS is up 15% over the last 5 years.

Does Aaron's 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. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (14.2) for companies in the specialty retail industry is lower than Aaron's's P/E.

NYSE:AAN Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 7th 2019

Aaron's's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

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

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. 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.

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

Is Debt Impacting Aaron's's P/E?

Aaron's has net debt worth just 7.7% of its market capitalization. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.

The Bottom Line On Aaron's's P/E Ratio

Aaron's's P/E is 18.7 which is about average (17.5) in the US market. Given it has some debt, but didn't grow last year, the P/E indicates the market is expecting higher profits ahead for the business.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 the key to an excellent investment decision.

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.