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Do You Know What ON Semiconductor Corporation's (NASDAQ:ON) P/E Ratio Means?

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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 ON Semiconductor Corporation's (NASDAQ:ON) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. ON Semiconductor has a price to earnings ratio of 14.2, based on the last twelve months. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $14.2 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

View our latest analysis for ON Semiconductor

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 ON Semiconductor:

P/E of 14.2 = $20.35 ÷ $1.43 (Based on the year to March 2019.)

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. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

Does ON Semiconductor 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. If you look at the image below, you can see ON Semiconductor has a lower P/E than the average (22.3) in the semiconductor industry classification.

NasdaqGS:ON Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 17th 2019

This suggests that market participants think ON Semiconductor will underperform other companies in its industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

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. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.

ON Semiconductor's earnings per share fell by 30% in the last twelve months. But EPS is up 28% over the last 5 years.

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

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. 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.

ON Semiconductor's Balance Sheet

Net debt totals 22% of ON Semiconductor's market cap. It would probably deserve a higher P/E ratio if it was net cash, since it would have more options for growth.

The Bottom Line On ON Semiconductor's P/E Ratio

ON Semiconductor's P/E is 14.2 which is below average (18) in the US market. Since it only carries a modest debt load, it's likely the low expectations implied by the P/E ratio arise from the lack of recent earnings growth.

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.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E 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.