U.S. Markets closed

Should You Be Tempted To Sell Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:RUTH) Because Of Its P/E Ratio?

Petra Goodwin

Want to participate in a short research study ? Help shape the future of investing tools and receive a $20 prize!

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc.’s ( NASDAQ:RUTH ) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Ruth’s Hospitality Group has a price to earnings ratio of 20.19 , based on the last twelve months. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 5.0%.

View our latest analysis for Ruth’s Hospitality Group

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Ruth’s Hospitality Group:

P/E of 20.19 = $24.68 ÷ $1.22 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Is A High P/E Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. All else being equal, it’s better to pay a low price — but as Warren Buffett said, ‘It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.’

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. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

It’s great to see that Ruth’s Hospitality Group grew EPS by 24% in the last year. And earnings per share have improved by 11% annually, over the last five years. This could arguably justify a relatively high P/E ratio.

How Does Ruth’s Hospitality Group’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that Ruth’s Hospitality Group has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the hospitality industry average (19.2).

NASDAQGS:RUTH PE PEG Gauge February 19th 19

Its P/E ratio suggests that Ruth’s Hospitality Group shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. So if Ruth’s Hospitality Group actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Checking factors such as the tenure of the board and management could help you form your own view on if that will happen.

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

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 taking on debt (or spending its remaining cash).

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

Is Debt Impacting Ruth’s Hospitality Group’s P/E?

Ruth’s Hospitality Group’s net debt is 6.7% of its market cap. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.

The Verdict On Ruth’s Hospitality Group’s P/E Ratio

Ruth’s Hospitality Group has a P/E of 20.2. That’s higher than the average in the US market, which is 17.2. The company is not overly constrained by its modest debt levels, and it is growing earnings per share. So it does not seem strange that the P/E is above average.

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.’ 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.

You might be able to find a better buy than Ruth’s Hospitality Group. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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. On rare occasion, data errors may occur. Thank you for reading.