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Should We Worry About Goodwin PLC's (LON:GDWN) P/E Ratio?

Simply Wall St

Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll show how you can use Goodwin PLC's (LON:GDWN) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. What is Goodwin's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 20.66. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 4.8%.

See our latest analysis for Goodwin

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Goodwin:

P/E of 20.66 = GBP32.60 ÷ GBP1.58 (Based on the year to October 2019.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing earnings. 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 Does Goodwin's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (18.9) for companies in the machinery industry is lower than Goodwin's P/E.

LSE:GDWN Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 28th 2020

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Goodwin shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn't guaranteed. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.

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. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

It's great to see that Goodwin grew EPS by 17% in the last year. And it has improved its earnings per share by 13% per year over the last three years. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio. But earnings per share are down 10% per year over the last five years.

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

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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 Goodwin's P/E?

Net debt totals just 8.5% of Goodwin's market cap. 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 Goodwin's P/E Ratio

Goodwin trades on a P/E ratio of 20.7, which is above its market average of 18.2. The company is not overly constrained by its modest debt levels, and its recent EPS growth very solid. Therefore, it's not particularly surprising that it has a above average P/E ratio.

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. We don't have analyst forecasts, but you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

You might be able to find a better buy than Goodwin. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.