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Here's How P/E Ratios Can Help Us Understand The Cooper Companies, Inc. (NYSE:COO)

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Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to The Cooper Companies, Inc.'s (NYSE:COO), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Cooper Companies has a P/E ratio of 38.17, based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 2.6%.

See our latest analysis for Cooper Companies

How Do You Calculate Cooper Companies's P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Cooper Companies:

P/E of 38.17 = $330.94 ÷ $8.67 (Based on the trailing twelve months to April 2019.)

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.

Does Cooper Companies Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (41) for companies in the medical equipment industry is roughly the same as Cooper Companies's P/E.

NYSE:COO Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 15th 2019

That indicates that the market expects Cooper Companies will perform roughly in line with other companies in its industry. So if Cooper Companies actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Checking factors such as director buying and selling. could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

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. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

In the last year, Cooper Companies grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 225% gain was both fast and well deserved. Even better, EPS is up 27% per year over three years. So we'd absolutely expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.

Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. 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 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.

So What Does Cooper Companies's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Cooper Companies's net debt is 11% of its market cap. That's enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you're comparing it to companies without debt.

The Verdict On Cooper Companies's P/E Ratio

Cooper Companies has a P/E of 38.2. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 18. Its debt levels do not imperil its balance sheet and its EPS growth is very healthy indeed. So to be frank we are not surprised it has a high P/E ratio.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Cooper Companies. 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.