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Albertsons Companies, Inc. (NYSE:ACI) shareholders have had their patience rewarded with a 27% share price jump in the last month. Looking back a bit further, it's encouraging to see the stock is up 60% in the last year.
Following the firm bounce in price, Albertsons Companies may be sending bearish signals at the moment with its price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 21x, since almost half of all companies in the United States have P/E ratios under 17x and even P/E's lower than 10x are not unusual. However, the P/E might be high for a reason and it requires further investigation to determine if it's justified.
While the market has experienced earnings growth lately, Albertsons Companies' earnings have gone into reverse gear, which is not great. It might be that many expect the dour earnings performance to recover substantially, which has kept the P/E from collapsing. If not, then existing shareholders may be extremely nervous about the viability of the share price.
If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report on Albertsons Companies.
Does Growth Match The High P/E?
The only time you'd be truly comfortable seeing a P/E as high as Albertsons Companies' is when the company's growth is on track to outshine the market.
Retrospectively, the last year delivered a frustrating 32% decrease to the company's bottom line. Still, the latest three year period has seen an excellent 40% overall rise in EPS, in spite of its unsatisfying short-term performance. Accordingly, while they would have preferred to keep the run going, shareholders would probably welcome the medium-term rates of earnings growth.
Turning to the outlook, the next three years should generate growth of 25% each year as estimated by the analysts watching the company. That's shaping up to be materially higher than the 12% per year growth forecast for the broader market.
With this information, we can see why Albertsons Companies is trading at such a high P/E compared to the market. It seems most investors are expecting this strong future growth and are willing to pay more for the stock.
The Bottom Line On Albertsons Companies' P/E
Albertsons Companies' P/E is getting right up there since its shares have risen strongly. Generally, our preference is to limit the use of the price-to-earnings ratio to establishing what the market thinks about the overall health of a company.
We've established that Albertsons Companies maintains its high P/E on the strength of its forecast growth being higher than the wider market, as expected. Right now shareholders are comfortable with the P/E as they are quite confident future earnings aren't under threat. Unless these conditions change, they will continue to provide strong support to the share price.
We don't want to rain on the parade too much, but we did also find 5 warning signs for Albertsons Companies that you need to be mindful of.
If these risks are making you reconsider your opinion on Albertsons Companies, explore our interactive list of high quality stocks to get an idea of what else is out there.
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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