Should You Be Tempted To Buy NetEase, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTES) Because Of Its P/E Multiple?

in VALUATION MULTIPLES by

NetEase, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTES), an information technology firm with a market capitalization of $33.5 billion, currently trades at a P/E multiple of 28.0x which is below the sector’s median multiple of 30.1x. Although this makes NTES look attractive, investors may change their mind after reviewing the assumptions behind the P/E ratio. In the post below, I explain how to apply P/E multiples and what to watch out for.


How To Utilize NetEase’s PE Multiples

A multiples valuation, also known as a comparable companies analysis, determines the value of a subject company by benchmarking the subject’s financial performance against companies deemed to be similar. We can then determine if a company is undervalued or overvalued relative to its peers by comparing metrics like growth, profit margin, and valuation multiples.

P/E Ratio is a valuation metric that indicates the multiple of earnings investors are willing to pay for one share of a company:

P/E Ratio = Stock Price ÷ Earnings Per Share

The P/E ratio by itself is not very helpful at all. It is only useful when comparing it to other companies that are considered similar to the subject company. The basic idea is that companies with similar characteristics should trade at similar multiples, all other things being equal. Therefore, we can come to a conclusion about the stock if the ratios are different. In the chart below, I compare NetEase’s P/E ratio to its peer group that includes Tencent Holding Ltd.(NYSE: TCEHY), 58.com Inc. (NYSE: WUBA), Alibaba Group Holding Limited (NYSE: BABA) and Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU).

NTES P/E Ratio vs Peers Chartsource: finbox.io Benchmarks: P/E Multiples

Since NetEase’s P/E ratio of 28.0x is lower than the median of its peers (48.9x), it means that investors are paying less than they should for each dollar of NTES’s earnings. As such, our analysis shows that NTES represents an undervalued stock. Furthermore, finbox.io’s P/E Ratio Model calculates a fair value of approximately $324.50 per share which implies roughly 27.5% upside.

NTES P/E Valuation Calculation

I selected a fair multiple of 35.7x in my analysis by averaging NetEase’s current P/E ratio with its peer group.


The P/E Ratio’s Flaws

While this approach typically provides a reasonable valuation range, it is important to understand that our conclusion rests on some important assumptions. The first being that the selected peer group actually contains companies that truly are similar to NetEase. The second important assumption is that the selected peer group stocks are being fairly valued by the market.

If the assumptions above do not hold to be true, then the difference in P/E ratios could be due to a variety of factors. For example, if you accidentally compare NetEase with higher growth companies, then its P/E multiple would naturally be lower than its peers since investors reward high growth stocks with a higher price.

NTES Net Income Growth and Margins vs Peers Tablesource: P/E model

On the other hand, if the second assumption does not hold true, NetEase’s lower multiple may be because our selected comparable companies are being overvalued by the market.


What To Do Next

As a current investor, you may have already conducted fundamental analysis on the company and its stock so its current undervaluation could signal a potential buying opportunity to increase your position in NTES. But keep in mind the P/E ratio’s potential flaws when applying this valuation approach. It is important to note that there are a variety of other fundamental factors that I have not taken into consideration in this article. I highly recommend that you continue your research on NetEase by taking a look at the following:

Valuation Metrics: what is NetEase’s EBITDA less CapEx multiple and how does it compare to its peers? This is a helpful multiple to analyze when comparing capital intensive businesses. View the company’s EBITDA less CapEx multiple here.

Risk Metrics: what is NetEase’s asset efficiency? This ratio measures the amount of cash flow that a company generates from its assets. View the company’s asset efficiency here.

Efficiency Metrics: is management becoming more or less efficient in creating value for the firm? Find out by analyzing the company’s return on invested capital ratio here.

As of this writing, I did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities and this is not a buy or sell recommendation on any security mentioned.

Expertise: Valuation, financial statement analysis. Matt Hogan is also a co-founder of finbox.io. His expertise is in investment decision making. Prior to finbox.io, Matt worked for an investment banking group providing fairness opinions in connection to stock acquisitions. He spent much of his time building valuation models to help clients determine an asset’s fair value. He believes that these same valuation models should be used by all investors before buying or selling a stock. His work is frequently published at InvestorPlace, Benzinga, ValueWalk, AAII, Barron’s, Seeking Alpha and investing.com. Matt can be reached at matt@finbox.io or at +1 (516) 778-6257.

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