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What Amgen Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AMGN) P/E Is Not Telling You

Simply Wall St
·3 mins read

Amgen Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AMGN) price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 19.8x 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 17x and even P/E's below 9x are quite common. However, the P/E might be high for a reason and it requires further investigation to determine if it's justified.

There hasn't been much to differentiate Amgen's and the market's retreating earnings lately. It might be that many expect the company's earnings to strengthen positively despite the tough market conditions, which has kept the P/E from falling. If not, then existing shareholders may be a little nervous about the viability of the share price.

See our latest analysis for Amgen

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Want the full picture on analyst estimates for the company? Then our free report on Amgen will help you uncover what's on the horizon.

Does Growth Match The High P/E?

Amgen's P/E ratio would be typical for a company that's expected to deliver solid growth, and importantly, perform better than the market.

Retrospectively, the last year delivered a frustrating 2.8% decrease to the company's bottom line. That put a dampener on the good run it was having over the longer-term as its three-year EPS growth is still a noteworthy 12% in total. Although it's been a bumpy ride, it's still fair to say the earnings growth recently has been mostly respectable for the company.

Looking ahead now, EPS is anticipated to climb by 8.4% each year during the coming three years according to the analysts following the company. With the market predicted to deliver 13% growth per annum, the company is positioned for a weaker earnings result.

In light of this, it's alarming that Amgen's P/E sits above the majority of other companies. 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 Final Word

Typically, we'd caution against reading too much into price-to-earnings ratios when settling on investment decisions, though it can reveal plenty about what other market participants think about the company.

We've established that Amgen currently trades on a much higher than expected P/E since its forecast growth is lower than the wider market. Right now we are increasingly uncomfortable with the high P/E as the predicted future earnings aren't likely to support such positive sentiment for long. Unless these conditions improve markedly, it's very challenging to accept these prices as being reasonable.

It's always necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with Amgen, and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Amgen. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that sit on P/E's below 20x and have grown earnings strongly.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team@simplywallst.com.