To the annoyance of some shareholders, Base Resources (ASX:BSE) shares are down a considerable 40% in the last month. Indeed the recent decline has arguably caused some bitterness for shareholders who have held through the 56% drop over twelve months.
Assuming nothing else has changed, a lower share price makes a stock more attractive to potential buyers. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.
How Does Base Resources's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
Base Resources's P/E of 3.05 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. The image below shows that Base Resources has a lower P/E than the average (6.9) P/E for companies in the metals and mining industry.
This suggests that market participants think Base Resources will underperform other companies in its industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. 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
Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. Earnings growth means that in the future the 'E' will be higher. 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.
Base Resources shrunk earnings per share by 14% over the last year.
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. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.
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 Base Resources's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Base Resources has net cash of US$33m. This is fairly high at 38% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.
The Verdict On Base Resources's P/E Ratio
Base Resources has a P/E of 3.0. That's below the average in the AU market, which is 12.5. Falling earnings per share are likely to be keeping potential buyers away, the relatively strong balance sheet will allow the company time to invest in growth. If it achieves that, then there's real potential that the low P/E could eventually indicate undervaluation. What can be absolutely certain is that the market has become more pessimistic about Base Resources over the last month, with the P/E ratio falling from 5.1 back then to 3.0 today. For those who prefer invest in growth, this stock apparently offers limited promise, but the deep value investors may find the pessimism around this stock enticing.
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.
But note: Base Resources 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).
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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