When close to half the companies in the United States have price-to-earnings ratios (or "P/E's") above 19x, you may consider Steel Dynamics, Inc. (NASDAQ:STLD) as an attractive investment with its 12.2x P/E ratio. Nonetheless, we'd need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a rational basis for the reduced P/E.
Recent times haven't been advantageous for Steel Dynamics as its earnings have been falling quicker than most other companies. It seems that many are expecting the dismal earnings performance to persist, which has repressed the P/E. If you still like the company, you'd want its earnings trajectory to turn around before making any decisions. If not, then existing shareholders will probably struggle to get excited about the future direction of the share price.
If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report on Steel Dynamics.
What Are Growth Metrics Telling Us About The Low P/E?
The only time you'd be truly comfortable seeing a P/E as low as Steel Dynamics' is when the company's growth is on track to lag the market.
If we review the last year of earnings, dishearteningly the company's profits fell to the tune of 47%. 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 14% 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 6.8% per annum during the coming three years according to the nine analysts following the company. With the market predicted to deliver 13% growth per year, the company is positioned for a weaker earnings result.
With this information, we can see why Steel Dynamics is trading at a P/E lower than the market. It seems most investors are expecting to see limited future growth and are only willing to pay a reduced amount for the stock.
The Bottom Line On Steel Dynamics' P/E
The price-to-earnings ratio's power isn't primarily as a valuation instrument but rather to gauge current investor sentiment and future expectations.
As we suspected, our examination of Steel Dynamics' analyst forecasts revealed that its inferior earnings outlook is contributing to its low P/E. Right now shareholders are accepting the low P/E as they concede future earnings probably won't provide any pleasant surprises. Unless these conditions improve, they will continue to form a barrier for the share price around these levels.
And what about other risks? Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Steel Dynamics you should know about.
Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Steel Dynamics. 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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