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Read This Before You Buy Navistar International Corporation (NYSE:NAV) Because Of Its P/E Ratio

Simply Wall St

Today, we'll introduce the concept of the P/E ratio for those who are learning about investing. We'll look at Navistar International Corporation's (NYSE:NAV) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Based on the last twelve months, Navistar International's P/E ratio is 10.15. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 9.9%.

View our latest analysis for Navistar International

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Navistar International:

P/E of 10.15 = $31.40 ÷ $3.09 (Based on the year to July 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing earnings. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

How Does Navistar International's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. The image below shows that Navistar International has a lower P/E than the average (22.4) P/E for companies in the machinery industry.

NYSE:NAV Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 6th 2019

Navistar International's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with Navistar International, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. If you consider the stock interesting, further research is recommended. For example, I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. 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.

Navistar International increased earnings per share by 6.5% last year.

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

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. 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.

So What Does Navistar International's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Net debt totals a substantial 130% of Navistar International's market cap. This is a relatively high level of debt, so the stock probably deserves a relatively low P/E ratio. Keep that in mind when comparing it to other companies.

The Verdict On Navistar International's P/E Ratio

Navistar International has a P/E of 10.1. That's below the average in the US market, which is 18.3. While the recent EPS growth is a positive, the significant amount of debt on the balance sheet may be contributing to pessimistic market expectations.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

You might be able to find a better buy than Navistar International. 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).

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.

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. Thank you for reading.