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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how Morses Club PLC's (LON:MCL) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Morses Club has a P/E ratio of 12.14, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 8.2%.
How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Morses Club:
P/E of 12.14 = £1.52 ÷ £0.12 (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 2019.)
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. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.
Most would be impressed by Morses Club earnings growth of 24% in the last year. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 23%. So one might expect an above average P/E ratio.
How Does Morses Club's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Morses Club has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the consumer finance industry average (11.6).
That indicates that the market expects Morses Club will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. The company could surprise by performing better than average, in the future. I inform my view byby checking management tenure and remuneration, among other things.
Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet
Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).
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 Morses Club's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Morses Club has net debt worth just 3.1% of its market capitalization. It would probably trade on a higher P/E ratio if it had a lot of cash, but I doubt it is having a big impact.
The Verdict On Morses Club's P/E Ratio
Morses Club's P/E is 12.1 which is below average (16.2) in the GB market. The company hasn't stretched its balance sheet, and earnings growth was good last year. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low.
Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. 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 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.
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 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. Thank you for reading.