Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Nelco (NSE:NELCO) share price has dived 42% in the last thirty days. That drop has capped off a tough year for shareholders, with the share price down 53% in that time.
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. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors’ expectations of a business 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 Nelco’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 23.15 that there is some investor optimism about Nelco. The image below shows that Nelco has a higher P/E than the average (14.6) P/E for companies in the communications industry.
Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Nelco shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t guarantee future growth. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. Earnings growth means that in the future the ‘E’ will be higher. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.
Nelco shrunk earnings per share by 41% over the last year. But it has grown its earnings per share by 23% per year over the last three years.
Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
Don’t forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. 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).
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 Nelco’s P/E?
Nelco’s net debt equates to 25% of its market capitalization. You’d want to be aware of this fact, but it doesn’t bother us.
The Bottom Line On Nelco’s P/E Ratio
Nelco trades on a P/E ratio of 23.2, which is above its market average of 9.2. With modest debt but no EPS growth in the last year, it’s fair to say the P/E implies some optimism about future earnings, from the market. Given Nelco’s P/E ratio has declined from 39.8 to 23.2 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is significantly less confident about the business today, than it was back then. For those who don’t like to trade against momentum, that could be a warning sign, but a contrarian investor might want to take a closer look.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. 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.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Nelco. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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