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Should We Worry About Planet Fitness, Inc.'s (NYSE:PLNT) P/E Ratio?

Simply Wall St

Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll show how you can use Planet Fitness, Inc.'s (NYSE:PLNT) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Planet Fitness has a P/E ratio of 58.98, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 1.7%.

See our latest analysis for Planet Fitness

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Planet Fitness:

P/E of 58.98 = USD79.02 ÷ USD1.34 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each USD1 the company has earned over the last year. All else being equal, it's better to pay a low price -- but as Warren Buffett said, 'It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price'.

Does Planet Fitness Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. As you can see below, Planet Fitness has a higher P/E than the average company (25.1) in the hospitality industry.

NYSE:PLNT Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 16th 2020

Planet Fitness's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn't guaranteed. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Planet Fitness's earnings made like a rocket, taking off 96% last year. And earnings per share have improved by 57% annually, over the last three years. So we'd absolutely expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

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.

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.

Is Debt Impacting Planet Fitness's P/E?

Planet Fitness's net debt is 13% of its market cap. 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 Planet Fitness's P/E Ratio

With a P/E ratio of 59.0, Planet Fitness is expected to grow earnings very strongly in the years to come. Its debt levels do not imperil its balance sheet and its EPS growth is very healthy indeed. So to be frank we are not surprised it has a high P/E ratio.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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 Planet Fitness. 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.