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Should We Worry About Worthington Industries, Inc.'s (NYSE:WOR) P/E Ratio?

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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use Worthington Industries, Inc.'s (NYSE:WOR) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Based on the last twelve months, Worthington Industries's P/E ratio is 14.61. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 6.8%.

Check out our latest analysis for Worthington Industries

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Worthington Industries:

P/E of 14.61 = $39.21 ÷ $2.68 (Based on the year to May 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 Worthington Industries's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (10.8) for companies in the metals and mining industry is lower than Worthington Industries's P/E.

NYSE:WOR Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 17th 2019

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Worthington Industries shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or 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. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Worthington Industries saw earnings per share decrease by 16% last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 4.1% per year over the last five years.

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.

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).

How Does Worthington Industries's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?

Net debt is 30% of Worthington Industries's market cap. While that's enough to warrant consideration, it doesn't really concern us.

The Bottom Line On Worthington Industries's P/E Ratio

Worthington Industries trades on a P/E ratio of 14.6, which is below the US market average of 18. With only modest debt, it's likely the lack of EPS growth at least partially explains the pessimism implied by the P/E ratio.

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.