China Oriental Group Company Limited’s (HKG:581) price-to-earnings (or “P/E”) ratio of 2.3x might make it look like a strong buy right now compared to the market in Hong Kong, where around half of the companies have P/E ratios above 11x and even P/E’s above 22x are quite common. Nonetheless, we’d need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a rational basis for the highly reduced P/E.
China Oriental Group hasn’t been tracking well recently as its declining earnings compare poorly to other companies, which have seen some growth on average. The P/E is probably low because investors think this poor earnings performance isn’t going to get any better. If you still 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 on China Oriental Group.
How Is China Oriental Group’s Growth Trending?
China Oriental Group’s P/E ratio would be typical for a company that’s expected to deliver very poor growth or even falling earnings, and importantly, perform much worse than the market.
If we review the last year of earnings, dishearteningly the company’s profits fell to the tune of 34%. However, a few very strong years before that means that it was still able to grow EPS by an impressive 250% in total over the last three years. Accordingly, while they would have preferred to keep the run going, shareholders would probably welcome the medium-term rates of earnings growth.
Shifting to the future, estimates from the four analysts covering the company suggest earnings growth is heading into negative territory, declining 1.4% each year over the next three years. Meanwhile, the broader market is forecast to expand by 15% each year, which paints a poor picture.
In light of this, it’s understandable that China Oriental Group’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. There’s potential for the P/E to fall to even lower levels if the company doesn’t improve its profitability.
The Final Word
It’s argued the price-to-earnings ratio is an inferior measure of value within certain industries, but it can be a powerful business sentiment indicator.
We’ve established that China Oriental Group maintains its low P/E on the weakness of its forecast for sliding earnings, 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. Unless these conditions improve, they will continue to form a barrier for the share price around these levels.
Having said that, be aware China Oriental Group is showing 4 warning signs in our investment analysis, and 2 of those are concerning.
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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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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