Stock Analysis

Lam Research Corporation's (NASDAQ:LRCX) Price Is Out Of Tune With Earnings

NasdaqGS:LRCX
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With a price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 25x Lam Research Corporation (NASDAQ:LRCX) may be sending very bearish signals at the moment, given that almost half of all companies in the United States have P/E ratios under 16x 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.

With earnings that are retreating more than the market's of late, Lam Research has been very sluggish. It might be that many expect the dismal earnings performance to recover substantially, which has kept the P/E from collapsing. If not, then existing shareholders may be very nervous about the viability of the share price.

Check out our latest analysis for Lam Research

pe-multiple-vs-industry
NasdaqGS:LRCX Price to Earnings Ratio vs Industry December 21st 2023
Keen to find out how analysts think Lam Research's 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?

The only time you'd be truly comfortable seeing a P/E as steep as Lam Research's is when the company's growth is on track to outshine the market decidedly.

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 15%. However, a few very strong years before that means that it was still able to grow EPS by an impressive 67% in total over the last three years. Although it's been a bumpy ride, it's still fair to say the earnings growth recently has been more than adequate for the company.

Looking ahead now, EPS is anticipated to climb by 14% per annum during the coming three years according to the analysts following the company. That's shaping up to be similar to the 12% each year growth forecast for the broader market.

With this information, we find it interesting that Lam Research is trading at a high P/E compared to the market. 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.

The Final Word

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.

We've established that Lam Research currently trades on a higher than expected P/E since its forecast growth is only in line with the wider market. When we see an average earnings outlook with market-like growth, we suspect the share price is at risk of declining, sending the high P/E lower. Unless these conditions improve, it's challenging to accept these prices as being reasonable.

Many other vital risk factors can be found on the company's balance sheet. Our free balance sheet analysis for Lam Research with six simple checks will allow you to discover any risks that could be an issue.

Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Lam Research. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have reasonable P/E ratios and have grown earnings strongly.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Lam Research is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.