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Should We Worry About Bechtle AG's (ETR:BC8) P/E Ratio?

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 apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Bechtle AG's (ETR:BC8), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Bechtle has a P/E ratio of 35.47, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today's prices, investors are paying €35.47 for every €1 in prior year profit.

View our latest analysis for Bechtle

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 Bechtle:

P/E of 35.47 = EUR135.30 ÷ EUR3.81 (Based on the year to September 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing earnings. That isn't necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

How Does Bechtle's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Bechtle has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the it industry average (33.1).

XTRA:BC8 Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 22nd 2020

That indicates that the market expects Bechtle will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. Checking factors such as director buying and selling. could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

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. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Notably, Bechtle grew EPS by a whopping 28% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 16% annually, over the last five years. With that performance, I would expect it to have an above average P/E ratio.

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. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

How Does Bechtle's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Bechtle's net debt is 2.8% of its market cap. 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 Verdict On Bechtle's P/E Ratio

Bechtle has a P/E of 35.5. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 20.7. The company is not overly constrained by its modest debt levels, and its recent EPS growth very solid. Therefore, it's not particularly surprising that it has a above average P/E ratio.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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.

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.