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What Escalade, Incorporated's (NASDAQ:ESCA) P/E Is Not Telling You

Simply Wall St

When close to half the companies in the United States have price-to-earnings ratios (or "P/E's") below 18x, you may consider Escalade, Incorporated (NASDAQ:ESCA) as a stock to potentially avoid with its 28.1x P/E ratio. However, the P/E might be high for a reason and it requires further investigation to determine if it's justified.

For example, consider that Escalade's financial performance has been poor lately as it's earnings have been in decline. One possibility is that the P/E is high because investors think the company will still do enough to outperform the broader market in the near future. If not, then existing shareholders may be quite nervous about the viability of the share price.

Check out our latest analysis for Escalade

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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 Escalade's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What Are Growth Metrics Telling Us About The High P/E?

The only time you'd be truly comfortable seeing a P/E as high as Escalade's is when the company's growth is on track to outshine the market.

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 54%. This means it has also seen a slide in earnings over the longer-term as EPS is down 20% in total over the last three years. So unfortunately, we have to acknowledge that the company has not done a great job of growing earnings over that time.

Comparing that to the market, which is predicted to deliver 3.2% growth in the next 12 months, the company's downward momentum based on recent medium-term earnings results is a sobering picture.

In light of this, it's alarming that Escalade's P/E sits above the majority of other companies. It seems most investors are ignoring the recent poor growth rate 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 Escalade's P/E

Using the price-to-earnings ratio alone to determine if you should sell your stock isn't sensible, however it can be a practical guide to the company's future prospects.

Our examination of Escalade revealed its shrinking earnings over the medium-term aren't impacting its high P/E anywhere near as much as we would have predicted, given the market is set to grow. When we see earnings heading backwards and underperforming the market forecasts, we suspect the share price is at risk of declining, sending the high P/E lower. 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.

It's always necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with Escalade, and understanding should be part of your investment process.

If P/E ratios interest you, you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly and trade on P/E's 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@simplywallst.com.