With a price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 37.8x Credit Bureau Asia Limited (SGX:TCU) may be sending very bearish signals at the moment, given that almost half of all companies in Singapore have P/E ratios under 15x and even P/E's lower than 9x are not unusual. Although, it's not wise to just take the P/E at face value as there may be an explanation why it's so lofty.
Credit Bureau Asia has been doing a reasonable job lately as its earnings haven't declined as much as most other companies. The P/E is probably high because investors think this comparatively better earnings performance will continue. While you'd prefer that its earnings trajectory turned around, you'd at least be hoping it remains less negative than other companies, otherwise you're paying a pretty hefty price for no particular reason.free report on Credit Bureau Asia.
What Are Growth Metrics Telling Us About The High P/E?
There's an inherent assumption that a company should far outperform the market for P/E ratios like Credit Bureau Asia's to be considered reasonable.
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 3.7%. Even so, admirably EPS has lifted 30% in aggregate from three years ago, notwithstanding the last 12 months. Accordingly, while they would have preferred to keep the run going, shareholders would probably welcome the medium-term rates of earnings growth.
Turning to the outlook, the next three years should generate growth of 18% per year as estimated by the only analyst watching the company. Meanwhile, the rest of the market is forecast to expand by 16% per annum, which is not materially different.
In light of this, it's curious that Credit Bureau Asia's P/E sits above the majority of other companies. It seems most investors are ignoring the fairly average growth expectations and are willing to pay up for exposure to the stock. Although, additional gains will be difficult to achieve as this level of earnings growth is likely to weigh down the share price eventually.
What We Can Learn From Credit Bureau Asia'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 Credit Bureau Asia's analyst forecasts revealed that its market-matching earnings outlook isn't impacting its high P/E as much as we would have predicted. Right now we are uncomfortable with the relatively high share price as the predicted future earnings aren't likely to support such positive sentiment for long. Unless these conditions improve, it's challenging to accept these prices as being reasonable.
A lot of potential risks can sit within a company's balance sheet. Our free balance sheet analysis for Credit Bureau Asia with six simple checks will allow you to discover any risks that could be an issue.
If P/E ratios interest you, you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly and trade on P/E's below 20x.
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