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Should We Worry About Securitas AB's (STO:SECU B) P/E Ratio?

Simply Wall St

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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how Securitas AB's (STO:SECU B) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. What is Securitas's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 19.48. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 5.1%.

View our latest analysis for Securitas

How Do I Calculate Securitas's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Securitas:

P/E of 19.48 = SEK164.6 ÷ SEK8.45 (Based on the year to March 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each SEK1 of company earnings. 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.'

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. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

Securitas increased earnings per share by 9.8% last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 10%.

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

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that Securitas has a higher P/E than the average (17.7) P/E for companies in the commercial services industry.

OM:SECU B Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 15th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Securitas shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn't guarantee future growth. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

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. 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 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.

Securitas's Balance Sheet

Net debt is 27% of Securitas's market cap. You'd want to be aware of this fact, but it doesn't bother us.

The Verdict On Securitas's P/E Ratio

Securitas has a P/E of 19.5. That's higher than the average in the SE market, which is 16.7. With modest debt relative to its size, and modest earnings growth, the market is likely expecting sustained long-term growth, if not a near-term improvement.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. 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.

But note: Securitas 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.