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The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we'll show how Craneware plc's (LON:CRW) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Craneware has a P/E ratio of 59.33, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay £59.33 for every £1 in trailing yearly profits.
See our latest analysis for Craneware
How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?
The formula for price to earnings is:
Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share (in the reporting currency) ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)
Or for Craneware:
P/E of 59.33 = $34.99 (Note: this is the share price in the reporting currency, namely, USD ) ÷ $0.59 (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)
Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?
A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each £1 of company earnings. All else being equal, it's better to pay a low price - but as Warren Buffett said, 'It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.'
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.
Craneware increased earnings per share by an impressive 17% over the last twelve months. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 14%. So one might expect an above average P/E ratio.
How Does Craneware's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. As you can see below, Craneware has a higher P/E than the average company (28.2) in the healthcare services industry.
Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Craneware shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should always consider the P/E ratio alongside other factors, such as whether company directors have been buying shares.
Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. 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.
Craneware's Balance Sheet
Craneware has net cash of US$53m. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.
The Verdict On Craneware's P/E Ratio
Craneware has a P/E of 59.3. That's significantly higher than the average in the GB market, which is 16.1. Its strong balance sheet gives the company plenty of resources for extra growth, and it has already proven it can grow. So it does not seem strange that the P/E is above average.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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 report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Craneware. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
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.