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CoreCivic, Inc.'s (NYSE:CXW) Earnings Are Not Doing Enough For Some Investors

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When close to half the companies in the United States have price-to-earnings ratios (or "P/E's") above 21x, you may consider CoreCivic, Inc. (NYSE:CXW) as a highly attractive investment with its 6.7x P/E ratio. However, the P/E might be quite low for a reason and it requires further investigation to determine if it's justified.

As an illustration, earnings have deteriorated at CoreCivic over the last year, which is not ideal at all. One possibility is that the P/E is low because investors think the company won't do enough to avoid underperforming the broader market in the near future. However, if this doesn't eventuate then existing shareholders may be feeling optimistic about the future direction of the share price.

See our latest analysis for CoreCivic

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We don't have analyst forecasts, but you can see how recent trends are setting up the company for the future by checking out our free report on CoreCivic's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

How Is CoreCivic's Growth Trending?

The only time you'd be truly comfortable seeing a P/E as depressed as CoreCivic's is when the company's growth is on track to lag the market decidedly.

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 35%. As a result, earnings from three years ago have also fallen 39% overall. So unfortunately, we have to acknowledge that the company has not done a great job of growing earnings over that time.

In contrast to the company, the rest of the market is expected to grow by 15% over the next year, which really puts the company's recent medium-term earnings decline into perspective.

With this information, we are not surprised that CoreCivic is trading at a P/E lower than the market. However, we think shrinking earnings are unlikely to lead to a stable P/E over the longer term, which could set up shareholders for future disappointment. Even just maintaining these prices could be difficult to achieve as recent earnings trends are already weighing down the shares.

The Final Word

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.

As we suspected, our examination of CoreCivic revealed its shrinking earnings over the medium-term are contributing to its low P/E, given the market is set to grow. Right now shareholders are accepting the low P/E as they concede future earnings probably won't provide any pleasant surprises. Unless the recent medium-term conditions improve, they will continue to form a barrier for the share price around these levels.

Don't forget that there may be other risks. For instance, we've identified 3 warning signs for CoreCivic (2 are concerning) 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).

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 (at) simplywallst.com.