Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Warrior Met Coal (NYSE:HCC) share price has dived 34% in the last thirty days. And that drop will have no doubt have some shareholders concerned that the 64% share price decline, over the last year, has turned them into bagholders. For those wondering, a bagholder is someone who keeps holding a losing stock indefinitely, without taking the time to consider its prospects carefully, going forward.
All else being equal, a share price drop should make a stock more 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. So, on certain occasions, long term focussed investors try to take advantage of pessimistic expectations to buy shares at a better price. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock 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.
How Does Warrior Met Coal's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 1.88 that sentiment around Warrior Met Coal isn't particularly high. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (8.1) for companies in the metals and mining industry is higher than Warrior Met Coal's P/E.
This suggests that market participants think Warrior Met Coal will underperform other companies in its industry. While current expectations are low, the stock could be undervalued if the situation is better than the market assumes. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.
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. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.
Warrior Met Coal shrunk earnings per share by 55% over the last year.
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. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.
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).
So What Does Warrior Met Coal's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Warrior Met Coal has net debt worth 23% of its market capitalization. It would probably deserve a higher P/E ratio if it was net cash, since it would have more options for growth.
The Verdict On Warrior Met Coal's P/E Ratio
Warrior Met Coal has a P/E of 1.9. That's below the average in the US market, which is 13.4. The debt levels are not a major concern, but the lack of EPS growth is likely weighing on sentiment. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become more pessimistic about Warrior Met Coal over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 2.8 back then to 1.9 today. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might be a bad sign, but for deep value investors this stock might justify some research.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.
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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