Mahube Infrastructure Limited's (JSE:MHB) price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 25.3x might make it look like a strong sell right now compared to the market in South Africa, where around half of the companies have P/E ratios below 13x and even P/E's below 7x 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.
For example, consider that Mahube Infrastructure's financial performance has been poor lately as it's earnings have been in decline. One possibility is that the P/E is high because investors think the company will still do enough to outperform the broader market in the near future. You'd really hope so, otherwise you're paying a pretty hefty price for no particular reason.free report on Mahube Infrastructure will help you shine a light on its historical performance.
How Is Mahube Infrastructure's Growth Trending?
Mahube Infrastructure's P/E ratio would be typical for a company that's expected to deliver very strong growth, and importantly, perform much better than the market.
If we review the last year of earnings, dishearteningly the company's profits fell to the tune of 70%. The last three years don't look nice either as the company has shrunk EPS by 72% in aggregate. So unfortunately, we have to acknowledge that the company has not done a great job of growing earnings over that time.
Weighing that medium-term earnings trajectory against the broader market's one-year forecast for expansion of 61% shows it's an unpleasant look.
With this information, we find it concerning that Mahube Infrastructure is trading at a P/E higher than the market. It seems most investors are ignoring the recent poor growth rate and are hoping for a turnaround in the company's business prospects. 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 Key Takeaway
Generally, our preference is to limit the use of the price-to-earnings ratio to establishing what the market thinks about the overall health of a company.
We've established that Mahube Infrastructure currently trades on a much higher than expected P/E since its recent earnings have been in decline over the medium-term. When we see earnings heading backwards and underperforming the market forecasts, we suspect the share price is at risk of declining, sending the high P/E lower. Unless the recent medium-term conditions improve markedly, it's very challenging to accept these prices as being reasonable.
Before you take the next step, you should know about the 5 warning signs for Mahube Infrastructure that we have uncovered.
Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Mahube Infrastructure. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that sit on P/E's below 20x and have grown earnings strongly.
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