When close to half the companies in the United States have price-to-earnings ratios (or "P/E's") below 14x, you may consider MP Materials Corp. (NYSE:MP) as a stock to avoid entirely with its 23.2x P/E ratio. 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 growth that's superior to most other companies of late, MP Materials has been doing relatively well. It seems that many are expecting the strong earnings performance to persist, which has raised the P/E. If not, then existing shareholders might be a little nervous about the viability of the share price.
Keen to find out how analysts think MP Materials' 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?
There's an inherent assumption that a company should far outperform the market for P/E ratios like MP Materials' to be considered reasonable.
Retrospectively, the last year delivered an exceptional 120% gain to the company's bottom line. However, the latest three year period hasn't been as great in aggregate as it didn't manage to provide any growth at all. So it appears to us that the company has had a mixed result in terms of growing earnings over that time.
Looking ahead now, EPS is anticipated to climb by 5.5% per year during the coming three years according to the eleven analysts following the company. Meanwhile, the rest of the market is forecast to expand by 9.4% per annum, which is noticeably more attractive.
With this information, we find it concerning that MP Materials is trading at a P/E higher than the market. Apparently many investors in the company are way more bullish than analysts indicate and aren't willing to let go of their stock at any price. There's a good chance these shareholders are setting themselves up for future disappointment if the P/E falls to levels more in line with the growth outlook.
The Bottom Line On MP Materials' P/E
We'd say the price-to-earnings ratio's power isn't primarily as a valuation instrument but rather to gauge current investor sentiment and future expectations.
We've established that MP Materials currently trades on a much higher than expected P/E since its forecast growth is lower than the wider market. When we see a weak earnings outlook with slower than market growth, we suspect the share price is at risk of declining, sending the high P/E lower. Unless these conditions improve markedly, it's very challenging to accept these prices as being reasonable.
We don't want to rain on the parade too much, but we did also find 1 warning sign for MP Materials that you need to be mindful of.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with a strong growth track record, trading on a P/E below 20x.
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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.
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