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Does United Carpets Group plc's (LON:UCG) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

Simply Wall St

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at United Carpets Group plc's (LON:UCG) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, United Carpets Group has a P/E ratio of 11.46. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 8.7%.

Check out our latest analysis for United Carpets Group

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for United Carpets Group:

P/E of 11.46 = £0.06 ÷ £0.01 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Is A High P/E 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. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

Does United Carpets Group Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. If you look at the image below, you can see United Carpets Group has a lower P/E than the average (16.0) in the specialty retail industry classification.

AIM:UCG Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 10th 2020

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that United Carpets Group shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Since the market seems unimpressed with United Carpets Group, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Companies that shrink earnings per share quickly will rapidly decrease the 'E' in the equation. That means unless the share price falls, the P/E will increase in a few years. So while a stock may look cheap based on past earnings, it could be expensive based on future earnings.

United Carpets Group shrunk earnings per share by 45% over the last year. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 18% per year over the last five years. This could justify a pessimistic P/E.

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

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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.

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).

Is Debt Impacting United Carpets Group's P/E?

United Carpets Group has net cash of UK£1.2m. This is fairly high at 24% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.

The Verdict On United Carpets Group's P/E Ratio

United Carpets Group's P/E is 11.5 which is below average (18.4) in the GB market. The recent drop in earnings per share would make investors cautious, but the net cash position means the company has time to improve: if so, the low P/E could be an opportunity.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. 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: United Carpets Group 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).

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.

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. Thank you for reading.