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MSL Solutions Limited's (ASX:MSL) Price Is Out Of Tune With Earnings

·3 min read

MSL Solutions Limited's (ASX:MSL) price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 70.1x might make it look like a strong sell right now compared to the market in Australia, where around half of the companies have P/E ratios below 14x and even P/E's below 8x are quite common. However, the P/E might be quite high for a reason and it requires further investigation to determine if it's justified.

MSL Solutions hasn't been tracking well recently as its declining earnings compare poorly to other companies, which have seen some growth on average. One possibility is that the P/E is high because investors think this poor earnings performance will turn the corner. You'd really hope so, otherwise you're paying a pretty hefty price for no particular reason.

View our latest analysis for MSL Solutions

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If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report on MSL Solutions.

Does Growth Match The High P/E?

There's an inherent assumption that a company should far outperform the market for P/E ratios like MSL Solutions' to be considered reasonable.

Retrospectively, the last year delivered a frustrating 15% decrease to the company's bottom line. Unfortunately, that's brought it right back to where it started three years ago with EPS growth being virtually non-existent overall during that time. Accordingly, shareholders probably wouldn't have been overly satisfied with the unstable medium-term growth rates.

Looking ahead now, EPS is anticipated to slump, contracting by 13% during the coming year according to the one analyst following the company. With the market predicted to deliver 12% growth , that's a disappointing outcome.

With this information, we find it concerning that MSL Solutions is trading at a P/E higher than the market. It seems most investors are hoping for a turnaround in the company's business prospects, but the analyst cohort is not so confident this will happen. There's a very good chance these shareholders are setting themselves up for future disappointment if the P/E falls to levels more in line with the negative growth outlook.

The Final Word

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.

Our examination of MSL Solutions' analyst forecasts revealed that its outlook for shrinking earnings isn't impacting its high P/E anywhere near as much as we would have predicted. When we see a poor outlook with earnings heading backwards, we suspect the share price is at risk of declining, sending the high P/E lower. Unless these conditions improve markedly, it's very challenging to accept these prices as being reasonable.

Having said that, be aware MSL Solutions is showing 4 warning signs in our investment analysis, you should know about.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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