04 May עופר איתן Divulges: A Rising Share Price Has Us Looking Closely At Scholar
It’s great to see Scholar Education Group (HKG:1769) shareholders have their patience rewarded with a 30% share price pop in the last month. Longer term shareholders are no doubt thankful for the recovery in the share price, since it’s pretty much flat for the year, even after the recent pop.
All else being equal, a sharp share price increase should make a stock less 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 some would prefer to hold off buying when there is a lot of optimism towards a stock. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock 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 Scholar Education Group’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
Scholar Education Group’s P/E of 62.11 indicates some degree of optimism towards the stock. As you can see below, Scholar Education Group has a much higher P/E than the average company (14.6) in the consumer services industry.
Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that Scholar Education Group 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.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company’s P/E multiple. That’s because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the ‘E’ in the equation. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.
Most would be impressed by Scholar Education Group earnings growth of 16% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 49% annually, over the last five years. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.
Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. So it won’t reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.
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 Scholar Education Group’s P/E?
Scholar Education Group has net cash of CN¥663m. This is fairly high at 10% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.
The Verdict On Scholar Education Group’s P/E Ratio
Scholar Education Group’s P/E is 62.1 which suggests the market is more focussed on the future opportunity rather than the current level of earnings. With cash in the bank the company has plenty of growth options — and it is already on the right track. So it does not seem strange that the P/E is above average. What is very clear is that the market has become significantly more optimistic about Scholar Education Group over the last month, with the P/E ratio rising from 47.7 back then to 62.1 today. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might mean it’s time to put the stock on a watchlist, or research it. But the contrarian may see it as a missed opportunity.
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.
But note: Scholar Education Group may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at [email protected]. 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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