Stock Analysis

Orion Energy Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:OESX) Stocks Pounded By 26% But Not Lagging Market On Growth Or Pricing

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Orion Energy Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:OESX) shares have had a horrible month, losing 26% after a relatively good period beforehand. Still, a bad month hasn't completely ruined the past year with the stock gaining 66%, which is great even in a bull market.

Although its price has dipped substantially, Orion Energy Systems' price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 67.5x might still make it look like a strong sell right now compared to the market in the United States, where around half of the companies have P/E ratios below 21x and even P/E's below 12x are quite common. Nonetheless, we'd need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a rational basis for the highly elevated P/E.

While the market has experienced earnings growth lately, Orion Energy Systems' earnings have gone into reverse gear, which is not great. One possibility is that the P/E is high because investors think this poor earnings performance will turn the corner. You'd really hope so, otherwise you're paying a pretty hefty price for no particular reason.

See our latest analysis for Orion Energy Systems

NasdaqCM:OESX Price Based on Past Earnings March 7th 2021
Keen to find out how analysts think Orion Energy Systems' future stacks up against the industry? In that case, our free report is a great place to start.

What Are Growth Metrics Telling Us About The High P/E?

In order to justify its P/E ratio, Orion Energy Systems would need to produce outstanding growth well in excess of the market.

If we review the last year of earnings, dishearteningly the company's profits fell to the tune of 72%. This has erased any of its gains during the last three years, with practically no change in EPS being achieved in total. Accordingly, shareholders probably wouldn't have been overly satisfied with the unstable medium-term growth rates.

Turning to the outlook, the next three years should generate growth of 79% per year as estimated by the four analysts watching the company. Meanwhile, the rest of the market is forecast to only expand by 16% per year, which is noticeably less attractive.

In light of this, it's understandable that Orion Energy Systems' P/E sits above the majority of other companies. It seems most investors are expecting this strong future growth and are willing to pay more for the stock.

The Final Word

Even after such a strong price drop, Orion Energy Systems' P/E still exceeds the rest of the market significantly. 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.

As we suspected, our examination of Orion Energy Systems' analyst forecasts revealed that its superior earnings outlook is contributing to its high P/E. At this stage investors feel the potential for a deterioration in earnings isn't great enough to justify a lower P/E ratio. Unless these conditions change, they will continue to provide strong support to the share price.

It's always necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with Orion Energy Systems, and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

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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