The RH Bophelo Limited (JSE:RHB) share price has done very well over the last month, posting an excellent gain of 50%. But not all shareholders will be feeling jubilant, since the share price is still down a very disappointing 22% in the last twelve months.
Even after such a large jump in price, RH Bophelo's price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 4x might still make it look like a strong buy right now compared to the market in South Africa, where around half of the companies have P/E ratios above 11x and even P/E's above 20x are quite common. Nonetheless, we'd need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a rational basis for the highly reduced P/E.
For example, consider that RH Bophelo's financial performance has been poor lately as it's earnings have been in decline. One possibility is that the P/E is low because investors think the company won't do enough to avoid underperforming the broader market in the near future. However, if this doesn't eventuate then existing shareholders may be feeling optimistic about the future direction of the share price.free report on RH Bophelo's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
How Is RH Bophelo's Growth Trending?
The only time you'd be truly comfortable seeing a P/E as depressed as RH Bophelo's is when the company's growth is on track to lag 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 8.2%. Even so, admirably EPS has lifted 169% in aggregate from three years ago, notwithstanding the last 12 months. So we can start by confirming that the company has generally done a very good job of growing earnings over that time, even though it had some hiccups along the way.
Weighing that recent medium-term earnings trajectory against the broader market's one-year forecast for expansion of 21% shows it's noticeably more attractive on an annualised basis.
With this information, we find it odd that RH Bophelo is trading at a P/E lower than the market. Apparently some shareholders believe the recent performance has exceeded its limits and have been accepting significantly lower selling prices.
The Bottom Line On RH Bophelo's P/E
RH Bophelo's recent share price jump still sees its P/E sitting firmly flat on the ground. 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 RH Bophelo revealed its three-year earnings trends aren't contributing to its P/E anywhere near as much as we would have predicted, given they look better than current market expectations. When we see strong earnings with faster-than-market growth, we assume potential risks are what might be placing significant pressure on the P/E ratio. It appears many are indeed anticipating earnings instability, because the persistence of these recent medium-term conditions would normally provide a boost to the share price.
Before you settle on your opinion, we've discovered 2 warning signs for RH Bophelo that you should be aware of.
You might be able to find a better investment than RH Bophelo. If you want a selection of possible candidates, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20x (but have proven they can grow earnings).
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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.