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Should We Worry About Ryanair Holdings plc's (ISE:RY4C) P/E Ratio?

Simply Wall St

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how Ryanair Holdings plc's (ISE:RY4C) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Based on the last twelve months, Ryanair Holdings's P/E ratio is 17.19. That means that at current prices, buyers pay €17.19 for every €1 in trailing yearly profits.

See our latest analysis for Ryanair Holdings

How Do You Calculate Ryanair Holdings's P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Ryanair Holdings:

P/E of 17.19 = €12.39 ÷ €0.72 (Based on the year to June 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 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 Ryanair Holdings's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that Ryanair Holdings has a higher P/E than the average (8.3) P/E for companies in the airlines industry.

ISE:RY4C Price Estimation Relative to Market, November 2nd 2019

Ryanair Holdings'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.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

When earnings fall, the 'E' decreases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. Then, a higher P/E might scare off shareholders, pushing the share price down.

Ryanair Holdings's earnings per share fell by 38% in the last twelve months. But it has grown its earnings per share by 8.9% per year over the last five years. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 15% per year over the last three years. This could justify a low P/E.

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

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

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.

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

Ryanair Holdings has net debt worth just 1.7% of its market capitalization. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.

The Verdict On Ryanair Holdings's P/E Ratio

Ryanair Holdings trades on a P/E ratio of 17.2, which is above its market average of 12.7. With some debt but no EPS growth last year, the market has high expectations of future profits.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. 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.

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.