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Does Orion Engineered Carbons S.A.'s (NYSE:OEC) P/E Ratio Signal A Buying Opportunity?

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use Orion Engineered Carbons S.A.'s ( NYSE:OEC ) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. What is Orion Engineered Carbons's P/E ratio? Well, based on the last twelve months it is 9.64. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 10%.

See our latest analysis for Orion Engineered Carbons

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 Orion Engineered Carbons:

P/E of 9.64 = $19.63 ÷ $2.04 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 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. That isn't a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business's prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. 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. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others -- and that may attract buyers.

Orion Engineered Carbons's 86% EPS improvement over the last year was like bamboo growth after rain; rapid and impressive. Even better, EPS is up 38% per year over three years. So we'd absolutely expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.

How Does Orion Engineered Carbons's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. The image below shows that Orion Engineered Carbons has a lower P/E than the average (18.6) P/E for companies in the chemicals industry.

NYSE:OEC Price Estimation Relative to Market, April 11th 2019

This suggests that market participants think Orion Engineered Carbons 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 .

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

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. 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).

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

Orion Engineered Carbons's Balance Sheet

Net debt totals 52% of Orion Engineered Carbons's market cap. If you want to compare its P/E ratio to other companies, you should absolutely keep in mind it has significant borrowings.

The Bottom Line On Orion Engineered Carbons's P/E Ratio

Orion Engineered Carbons's P/E is 9.6 which is below average (18.1) in the US market. The company may have significant debt, but EPS growth was good last year. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. 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 visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Orion Engineered Carbons . 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 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. Thank you for reading.