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The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Monadelphous Group Limited's (ASX:MND), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Monadelphous Group has a P/E ratio of 32.02, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 3.1%.

Check out our latest analysis for Monadelphous Group

### How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share Ã· Earnings per Share (EPS)

P/E of 32.02 = A\$17.20 Ã· A\$0.54 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

### Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each A\$1 of company earnings. 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 Does Monadelphous Group's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (13.6) for companies in the construction industry is lower than Monadelphous Group's P/E.

Monadelphous Group'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 investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

### How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the 'E' in the equation. That means unless the share price falls, the P/E will increase in a few years. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.

Monadelphous Group's earnings per share fell by 29% in the last twelve months. And EPS is down 20% a year, over the last 5 years. This growth rate might warrant a below average P/E ratio.

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

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

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 Monadelphous Group's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Monadelphous Group has net cash of AU\$161m. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.

### The Verdict On Monadelphous Group's P/E Ratio

Monadelphous Group's P/E is 32.0 which is above average (18.8) in its market. Falling earnings per share is probably keeping traditional value investors away, but the relatively strong balance sheet will allow the company time to invest in growth. Clearly, the high P/E indicates shareholders think it will!

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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

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.