Despite Its High P/E Ratio, Is Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals Limited (ASX:CUV) Still Undervalued?

Simply Wall St

This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals Limited's (ASX:CUV) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals has a price to earnings ratio of 66.07, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 1.5%.

See our latest analysis for Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

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

Or for Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals:

P/E of 66.07 = A$21.92 ÷ A$0.33 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. 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

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. 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, Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 161% gain was both fast and well deserved.

Does Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. As you can see below, Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals has a much higher P/E than the average company (20.8) in the biotechs industry.

ASX:CUV Price Estimation Relative to Market, April 26th 2019

Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn't guaranteed. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

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).

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.

Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals's Balance Sheet

Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals has net cash of AU$43m. That should lead to a higher P/E than if it did have debt, because its strong balance sheets gives it more options.

The Bottom Line On Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals's P/E Ratio

Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals's P/E is 66.1 which suggests the market is more focussed on the future opportunity rather than the current level of earnings. Its net cash position is the cherry on top of its superb EPS growth. So based on this analysis we'd expect Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals to have a high P/E ratio.

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.' We don't have analyst forecasts, but shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But note: Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals 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).

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.