HKC International Holdings Limited (HKG:248) shareholders won't be pleased to see that the share price has had a very rough month, dropping 25% and undoing the prior period's positive performance. Instead of being rewarded, shareholders who have already held through the last twelve months are now sitting on a 43% share price drop.
Even after such a large drop in price, given close to half the companies in Hong Kong have price-to-earnings ratios (or "P/E's") below 8x, you may still consider HKC International Holdings as a stock to avoid entirely with its 36.5x P/E ratio. Nonetheless, we'd need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a rational basis for the highly elevated P/E.
With earnings growth that's exceedingly strong of late, HKC International Holdings has been doing very well. It seems that many are expecting the strong earnings performance to beat most other companies over the coming period, which has increased investors' willingness to pay up for the stock. If not, then existing shareholders might be a little nervous about the viability of the share price.
View our latest analysis for HKC International HoldingsSEHK:248 Price Based on Past Earnings December 15th 2022 Want the full picture on earnings, revenue and cash flow for the company? Then our free report on HKC International Holdings will help you shine a light on its historical performance.
Does Growth Match The High P/E?
There's an inherent assumption that a company should far outperform the market for P/E ratios like HKC International Holdings' to be considered reasonable.
Taking a look back first, we see that the company grew earnings per share by an impressive 138% last year. Although, its longer-term performance hasn't been as strong with three-year EPS growth being relatively non-existent overall. Accordingly, shareholders probably wouldn't have been overly satisfied with the unstable medium-term growth rates.
Weighing that recent medium-term earnings trajectory against the broader market's one-year forecast for expansion of 17% shows it's noticeably less attractive on an annualised basis.
With this information, we find it concerning that HKC International Holdings is trading at a P/E higher than the market. It seems most investors are ignoring the fairly limited recent growth rates 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 Bottom Line On HKC International Holdings' P/E
Even after such a strong price drop, HKC International Holdings' P/E still exceeds the rest of the market significantly. It's argued the price-to-earnings ratio is an inferior measure of value within certain industries, but it can be a powerful business sentiment indicator.
Our examination of HKC International Holdings revealed its three-year earnings trends aren't impacting its high P/E anywhere near as much as we would have predicted, given they look worse than current market expectations. Right now we are increasingly uncomfortable with the high P/E as this earnings performance isn't likely to support such positive sentiment for long. Unless the recent medium-term conditions improve markedly, it's very challenging to accept these prices as being reasonable.
You need to take note of risks, for example - HKC International Holdings has 2 warning signs (and 1 which is a bit concerning) we think you should know about.
You might be able to find a better investment than HKC International Holdings. 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.