Polman S.A.'s (WSE:PLM) price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 17.9x might make it look like a sell right now compared to the market in Poland, where around half of the companies have P/E ratios below 12x and even P/E's below 7x are quite common. However, the P/E might be high for a reason and it requires further investigation to determine if it's justified.
For example, consider that Polman's financial performance has been pretty ordinary lately as earnings growth is non-existent. It might be that many are expecting an improvement to the uninspiring earnings performance over the coming period, 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.free report on Polman's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What Are Growth Metrics Telling Us About The High P/E?
Polman's P/E ratio would be typical for a company that's expected to deliver solid growth, and importantly, perform better than the market.
Retrospectively, the last year delivered virtually the same number to the company's bottom line as the year before. That's essentially a continuation of what we've seen over the last three years, as its EPS growth has been virtually non-existent for that entire period. Accordingly, shareholders probably wouldn't have been satisfied with the complete absence of medium-term growth.
Weighing that recent medium-term earnings trajectory against the broader market's one-year forecast for expansion of 3.2% shows it's noticeably less attractive on an annualised basis.
In light of this, it's alarming that Polman's P/E sits above the majority of other companies. Apparently many investors in the company are way more bullish than recent times would indicate and aren't willing to let go of their stock at any price. Only the boldest would assume these prices are sustainable as a continuation of recent earnings trends is likely to weigh heavily on the share price eventually.
The Bottom Line On Polman's P/E
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.
Our examination of Polman revealed its three-year earnings trends aren't impacting its high P/E anywhere near as much as we would have predicted, given they look worse than current market expectations. Right now we are increasingly uncomfortable with the high P/E as this earnings performance isn't likely to support such positive sentiment for long. Unless the recent medium-term conditions improve markedly, it's very challenging to accept these prices as being reasonable.
Before you settle on your opinion, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Polman that 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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