Those holding Renishaw (LON:RSW) shares must be pleased that the share price has rebounded 34% in the last thirty days. But unfortunately, the stock is still down by 8.3% over a quarter. But shareholders may not all be feeling jubilant, since the share price is still down 29% in the last year.
All else being equal, a sharp share price increase should make a stock less attractive to potential investors. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that deep value investors might steer clear when expectations of a company are too high. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors' expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E implies that investors have high expectations of what a company can achieve compared to a company with a low P/E ratio.
Does Renishaw Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
Renishaw's P/E of 49.63 indicates some degree of optimism towards the stock. As you can see below, Renishaw has a higher P/E than the average company (17.4) in the electronic industry.
Renishaw'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 delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
When earnings fall, the 'E' decreases, over time. That means even if the current P/E is low, it will increase over time if the share price stays flat. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.
Renishaw shrunk earnings per share by 63% over the last year. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 16% per year over the last five years. This might lead to muted expectations.
A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank
The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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.
Is Debt Impacting Renishaw's P/E?
The extra options and safety that comes with Renishaw's UK£61m net cash position means that it deserves a higher P/E than it would if it had a lot of net debt.
The Bottom Line On Renishaw's P/E Ratio
Renishaw trades on a P/E ratio of 49.6, which is multiples above its market average of 13.5. The recent drop in earnings per share would make some investors cautious, but the healthy balance sheet means the company retains the potential for future growth. If this growth fails to materialise, the current high P/E could prove to be temporary, as the share price falls. What is very clear is that the market has become significantly more optimistic about Renishaw over the last month, with the P/E ratio rising from 37.1 back then to 49.6 today. If you like to buy stocks that have recently impressed the market, then this one might be a candidate; but if you prefer to invest when there is 'blood in the streets', then you may feel the opportunity has passed.
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 visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.
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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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