The Austar Lifesciences Limited (HKG:6118) share price has fared very poorly over the last month, falling by a substantial 29%. The recent drop completes a disastrous twelve months for shareholders, who are sitting on a 94% loss during that time.
Although its price has dipped substantially, there still wouldn't be many who think Austar Lifesciences' price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 7.1x is worth a mention when the median P/E in Hong Kong is similar at about 9x. However, investors might be overlooking a clear opportunity or potential setback if there is no rational basis for the P/E.
As an illustration, earnings have deteriorated at Austar Lifesciences over the last year, which is not ideal at all. One possibility is that the P/E is moderate because investors think the company might still do enough to be in line with the broader market in the near future. If you like the company, you'd at least be hoping this is the case so that you could potentially pick up some stock while it's not quite in favour.
Check out our latest analysis for Austar LifesciencesSEHK:6118 Price Based on Past Earnings September 19th 2022 Want the full picture on earnings, revenue and cash flow for the company? Then our free report on Austar Lifesciences will help you shine a light on its historical performance.
Does Growth Match The P/E?
Austar Lifesciences' P/E ratio would be typical for a company that's only expected to deliver moderate growth, and importantly, perform in line with the market.
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 56%. However, a few very strong years before that means that it was still able to grow EPS by an impressive 1,216% 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.
This is in contrast to the rest of the market, which is expected to grow by 20% over the next year, materially lower than the company's recent medium-term annualised growth rates.
With this information, we find it interesting that Austar Lifesciences is trading at a fairly similar P/E to the market. It may be that most investors are not convinced the company can maintain its recent growth rates.
The Key Takeaway
With its share price falling into a hole, the P/E for Austar Lifesciences looks quite average now. 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 Austar Lifesciences currently trades on a lower than expected P/E since its recent three-year growth is higher than the wider market forecast. There could be some unobserved threats to earnings preventing the P/E ratio from matching this positive performance. At least the risk of a price drop looks to be subdued if recent medium-term earnings trends continue, but investors seem to think future earnings could see some volatility.
Having said that, be aware Austar Lifesciences is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis, and 1 of those makes us a bit uncomfortable.
You might be able to find a better investment than Austar Lifesciences. 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.