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When close to half the companies in the United States have price-to-earnings ratios (or "P/E's") below 18x, you may consider Hamilton Lane Incorporated (NASDAQ:HLNE) as a stock to avoid entirely with its 41.2x P/E ratio. Nonetheless, we'd need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a rational basis for the highly elevated P/E.
Hamilton Lane certainly has been doing a good job lately as its earnings growth has been positive while most other companies have been seeing their earnings go backwards. It seems that many are expecting the company to continue defying the broader market adversity, which has increased investors’ willingness to pay up for the stock. If not, then existing shareholders might be a little nervous about the viability of the share price.
Keen to find out how analysts think Hamilton Lane's 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?
The only time you'd be truly comfortable seeing a P/E as steep as Hamilton Lane's is when the company's growth is on track to outshine the market decidedly.
Taking a look back first, we see that the company grew earnings per share by an impressive 26% last year. Pleasingly, EPS has also lifted 477% in aggregate from three years ago, thanks to the last 12 months of growth. So we can start by confirming that the company has done a great job of growing earnings over that time.
Looking ahead now, EPS is anticipated to climb by 12% each year during the coming three years according to the seven analysts following the company. Meanwhile, the rest of the market is forecast to expand by 13% per year, which is not materially different.
With this information, we find it interesting that Hamilton Lane is trading at a high P/E compared to the market. It seems most investors are ignoring the fairly average growth expectations and are willing to pay up for exposure to the stock. Although, additional gains will be difficult to achieve as this level of earnings growth is likely to weigh down the share price eventually.
What We Can Learn From Hamilton Lane's P/E?
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 Hamilton Lane currently trades on a higher than expected P/E since its forecast growth is only in line with the wider market. Right now we are uncomfortable with the relatively high share price as the predicted future earnings aren't likely to support such positive sentiment for long. This places shareholders' investments at risk and potential investors in danger of paying an unnecessary premium.
Before you settle on your opinion, we've discovered 1 warning sign for Hamilton Lane that you should be aware of.
Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Hamilton Lane. 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.
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