Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Deutsche Post (ETR:DPW) share price has dived 37% in the last thirty days. Even longer term holders have taken a real hit with the stock declining 29% in the last year.
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. The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. 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 ratio means that investors have a high expectation about future growth, while a low P/E ratio means they have low expectations about future growth.
How Does Deutsche Post's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 9.98 that sentiment around Deutsche Post isn't particularly high. If you look at the image below, you can see Deutsche Post has a lower P/E than the average (12.0) in the logistics industry classification.
This suggests that market participants think Deutsche Post will underperform other companies in its industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. 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.
Deutsche Post increased earnings per share by an impressive 22% over the last twelve months. And earnings per share have improved by 2.8% annually, over the last five years. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.
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 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.
How Does Deutsche Post's Debt Impact Its P/E Ratio?
Net debt totals 17% of Deutsche Post's market cap. It would probably deserve a higher P/E ratio if it was net cash, since it would have more options for growth.
The Bottom Line On Deutsche Post's P/E Ratio
Deutsche Post has a P/E of 10.0. That's below the average in the DE market, which is 16.8. The company hasn't stretched its balance sheet, and earnings growth was good last year. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue. Since analysts are predicting growth will continue, one might expect to see a higher P/E so it may be worth looking closer. Given Deutsche Post's P/E ratio has declined from 15.8 to 10.0 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is more worried about the business today, than it was back then. For those who prefer invest in growth, this stock apparently offers limited promise, but the deep value investors may find the pessimism around this stock enticing.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. 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 Deutsche Post. 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 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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