Risks To Shareholder Returns Are Elevated At These Prices For Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:DNKN)

When close to half the companies in the United States have price-to-earnings ratios (or “P/E’s”) below 18x, you may consider Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:DNKN) as a stock to avoid entirely with its 28.9x P/E ratio. Nonetheless, we’d need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a rational basis for the highly elevated P/E.

Dunkin’ Brands Group has been struggling lately as its earnings have declined faster than most other companies. It might be that many expect the dismal earnings performance to recover substantially, which has kept the P/E from collapsing. You’d really hope so, otherwise you’re paying a pretty hefty price for no particular reason.

See our latest analysis for Dunkin’ Brands Group

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NasdaqGS:DNKN Price Based on Past Earnings September 19th 2020
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How Is Dunkin’ Brands Group’s Growth Trending?

Dunkin’ Brands Group’s P/E ratio would be typical for a company that’s expected to deliver very strong growth, and importantly, perform much better than the market.

Taking a look back first, the company’s earnings per share growth last year wasn’t something to get excited about as it posted a disappointing decline of 5.4%. That put a dampener on the good run it was having over the longer-term as its three-year EPS growth is still a noteworthy 18% in total. So we can start by confirming that the company has generally done a good job of growing earnings over that time, even though it had some hiccups along the way.

Turning to the outlook, the next three years should generate growth of 9.3% per year as estimated by the analysts watching the company. That’s shaping up to be materially lower than the 13% each year growth forecast for the broader market.

In light of this, it’s alarming that Dunkin’ Brands Group’s P/E sits above the majority of other companies. Apparently many investors in the company are way more bullish than analysts indicate and aren’t willing to let go of their stock at any price. Only the boldest would assume these prices are sustainable as this level of earnings growth is likely to weigh heavily on the share price eventually.

The Key Takeaway

Typically, we’d caution against reading too much into price-to-earnings ratios when settling on investment decisions, though it can reveal plenty about what other market participants think about the company.

We’ve established that Dunkin’ Brands Group currently trades on a much higher than expected P/E since its forecast growth is lower than the wider market. When we see a weak earnings outlook with slower than market growth, we suspect the share price is at risk of declining, sending the high P/E lower. This places shareholders’ investments at significant risk and potential investors in danger of paying an excessive premium.

Having said that, be aware Dunkin’ Brands Group is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis, and 1 of those is significant.

It’s important to make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20x).

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