Xunlei Limited's (NASDAQ:XNET) price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 19.4x might make it look like a sell right now compared to the market in the United States, where around half of the companies have P/E ratios below 15x and even P/E's below 9x are quite common. Nonetheless, we'd need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a rational basis for the elevated P/E.
As an illustration, earnings have deteriorated at Xunlei over the last year, which is not ideal at all. It might be that many expect the company to still outplay most other companies over the coming period, which has kept the P/E from collapsing. If not, then existing shareholders may be quite nervous about the viability of the share price.
Want the full picture on earnings, revenue and cash flow for the company? Then our free report on Xunlei will help you shine a light on its historical performance.
Is There Enough Growth For Xunlei?
There's an inherent assumption that a company should outperform the market for P/E ratios like Xunlei's to be considered reasonable.
Retrospectively, the last year delivered a frustrating 41% decrease to the company's bottom line. This has erased any of its gains during the last three years, with practically no change in EPS being achieved in total. 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 8.9% shows it's noticeably less attractive on an annualised basis.
In light of this, it's alarming that Xunlei's P/E sits above the majority of other companies. Apparently many investors in the company are way more bullish than recent times would indicate and aren't willing to let go of their stock at any price. There's a good chance existing shareholders are setting themselves up for future disappointment if the P/E falls to levels more in line with recent growth rates.
The Bottom Line On Xunlei's P/E
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 Xunlei 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. If recent medium-term earnings trends continue, it will place shareholders' investments at significant risk and potential investors in danger of paying an excessive premium.
There are also other vital risk factors to consider before investing and we've discovered 1 warning sign for Xunlei that you should be aware of.
It's important to make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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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