When close to half the companies in France have price-to-earnings ratios (or “P/E’s”) above 17x, you may consider Atos SE (EPA:ATO) as an attractive investment with its 13.3x P/E ratio. Although, it’s not wise to just take the P/E at face value as there may be an explanation why it’s limited.
With its earnings growth in positive territory compared to the declining earnings of most other companies, Atos has been doing quite well of late. It might be that many expect the strong earnings performance to degrade substantially, possibly more than the market, which has repressed the P/E. If you like the company, you’d be hoping this isn’t the case so that you could potentially pick up some stock while it’s out of favour.free report is a great place to start.
Does Growth Match The Low P/E?
Atos’ P/E ratio would be typical for a company that’s only expected to deliver limited growth, and importantly, perform worse than the market.
Taking a look back first, we see that the company grew earnings per share by an impressive 29% last year. However, this wasn’t enough as the latest three year period has seen a very unpleasant 7.5% drop in EPS in aggregate. Accordingly, shareholders would have felt downbeat about the medium-term rates of earnings growth.
Turning to the outlook, the next three years should generate growth of 4.0% each year as estimated by the analysts watching the company. That’s shaping up to be materially lower than the 17% per annum growth forecast for the broader market.
In light of this, it’s understandable that Atos’ P/E sits below the majority of other companies. Apparently many shareholders weren’t comfortable holding on while the company is potentially eyeing a less prosperous future.
The Key Takeaway
Using the price-to-earnings ratio alone to determine if you should sell your stock isn’t sensible, however it can be a practical guide to the company’s future prospects.
We’ve established that Atos maintains its low P/E on the weakness of its forecast growth being lower than the wider market, as expected. At this stage investors feel the potential for an improvement in earnings isn’t great enough to justify a higher P/E ratio. It’s hard to see the share price rising strongly in the near future under these circumstances.
There are also other vital risk factors to consider before investing and we’ve discovered 1 warning sign for Atos that you should be aware of.
If you’re unsure about the strength of Atos’ business, why not explore our interactive list of stocks with solid business fundamentals for some other companies you may have missed.
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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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