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Should We Worry About Symrise AG's (ETR:SY1) P/E Ratio?

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Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll look at Symrise AG's (ETR:SY1) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Based on the last twelve months, Symrise's P/E ratio is 41.62. That means that at current prices, buyers pay €41.62 for every €1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Symrise

How Do You Calculate Symrise's P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Symrise:

P/E of 41.62 = €88.28 ÷ €2.12 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each €1 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.'

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. 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.

Symrise's earnings per share were pretty steady over the last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 7.8% per year over the last five years.

Does Symrise 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 Symrise has a higher P/E than the average (20.4) P/E for companies in the chemicals industry.

XTRA:SY1 Price Estimation Relative to Market, June 17th 2019

Symrise'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.

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. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on 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.

So What Does Symrise's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Symrise's net debt is 12% of its market cap. That's enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you're comparing it to companies without debt.

The Bottom Line On Symrise's P/E Ratio

Symrise has a P/E of 41.6. That's higher than the average in the DE market, which is 19.7. With debt at prudent levels and improving earnings, it's fair to say the market expects steady progress in the future.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

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.