FTI Consulting, Inc.'s (NYSE:FCN) price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 20.4x might make it look like a sell right now compared to the market in the United States, where around half of the companies have P/E ratios below 18x and even P/E's below 9x are quite common. However, the P/E might be high for a reason and it requires further investigation to determine if it's justified.
With its earnings growth in positive territory compared to the declining earnings of most other companies, FTI Consulting has been doing quite well of late. The P/E is probably high because investors think the company will continue to navigate the broader market headwinds better than most. If not, then existing shareholders might be a little nervous about the viability of the share price.free report on FTI Consulting will help you uncover what's on the horizon.
What Are Growth Metrics Telling Us About The High P/E?
There's an inherent assumption that a company should outperform the market for P/E ratios like FTI Consulting's to be considered reasonable.
If we review the last year of earnings, the company posted a result that saw barely any deviation from a year ago. However, a few strong years before that means that it was still able to grow EPS by an impressive 476% in total over the last three years. Accordingly, shareholders would have probably welcomed those medium-term rates of earnings growth.
Turning to the outlook, the next year should generate growth of 12% as estimated by the three analysts watching the company. With the market only predicted to deliver 4.8%, the company is positioned for a stronger earnings result.
With this information, we can see why FTI Consulting is trading at such a high P/E compared to the market. It seems most investors are expecting this strong future growth and are willing to pay more for the stock.
The Key Takeaway
Typically, we'd caution against reading too much into price-to-earnings ratios when settling on investment decisions, though it can reveal plenty about what other market participants think about the company.
As we suspected, our examination of FTI Consulting's 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. It's hard to see the share price falling strongly in the near future under these circumstances.
We don't want to rain on the parade too much, but we did also find 1 warning sign for FTI Consulting that you need to be mindful of.
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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