Why Investors Shouldn’t Be Surprised By STEF SA’s (EPA:STF) Low P/E

STEF SA’s (EPA:STF) price-to-earnings (or “P/E”) ratio of 8x might make it look like a buy right now compared to the market in France, where around half of the companies have P/E ratios above 16x and even P/E’s above 30x are quite common. However, the P/E might be low for a reason and it requires further investigation to determine if it’s justified.

STEF certainly has been doing a good job lately as its earnings growth has been positive while most other companies have been seeing their earnings go backwards. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for STEF

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ENXTPA:STF Price Based on Past Earnings August 3rd 2020
Want the full picture on analyst estimates for the company? Then our free report on STEF will help you uncover what’s on the horizon.

Is There Any Growth For STEF?

There’s an inherent assumption that a company should underperform the market for P/E ratios like STEF’s to be considered reasonable.

If we review the last year of earnings growth, the company posted a worthy increase of 6.1%. The latest three year period has also seen a 15% overall rise in EPS, aided somewhat by its short-term performance. Therefore, it’s fair to say the earnings growth recently has been respectable for the company.

Shifting to the future, estimates from the three analysts covering the company suggest earnings growth is heading into negative territory, declining 1.5% per year over the next three years. That’s not great when the rest of the market is expected to grow by 13% per year.

In light of this, it’s understandable that STEF’s P/E would sit below the majority of other companies. Nonetheless, there’s no guarantee the P/E has reached a floor yet with earnings going in reverse. Even just maintaining these prices could be difficult to achieve as the weak outlook is weighing down the shares.

The Bottom Line On STEF’s P/E

The price-to-earnings ratio’s power isn’t primarily as a valuation instrument but rather to gauge current investor sentiment and future expectations.

We’ve established that STEF maintains its low P/E on the weakness of its forecast for sliding earnings, as expected. Right now shareholders are accepting the low P/E as they concede future earnings probably won’t provide any pleasant surprises. Unless these conditions improve, they will continue to form a barrier for the share price around these levels.

You always need to take note of risks, for example – STEF has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with a strong growth track record, trading on a P/E below 20x.

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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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