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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how Nomad Foods Limited's (NYSE:NOMD) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. What is Nomad Foods's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 26.45. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 3.8%.

### How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share (in the reporting currency) Ã· Earnings per Share (EPS)

P/E of 26.45 = â‚¬19.68 (Note: this is the share price in the reporting currency, namely, EUR ) Ã· â‚¬0.74 (Based on the year to March 2019.)

### 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 necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

### How Does Nomad Foods'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 (26) for companies in the food industry is roughly the same as Nomad Foods's P/E.

Nomad Foods'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. 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

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Nomad Foods saw earnings per share decrease by 14% last year.

### 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. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

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).

### So What Does Nomad Foods's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Nomad Foods's net debt equates to 31% of its market capitalization. While that's enough to warrant consideration, it doesn't really concern us.

### The Bottom Line On Nomad Foods's P/E Ratio

Nomad Foods's P/E is 26.4 which is above average (18) in its market. With some debt but no EPS growth last year, the market has high expectations of future profits.

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

But note: Nomad Foods may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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.