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There's Reason For Concern Over Perma-Fix Environmental Services, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:PESI) Price

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Perma-Fix Environmental Services, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:PESI) price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 21x might make it look like a sell right now compared to the market in the United States, where around half of the companies have P/E ratios below 17x and even P/E's below 10x are quite common. Although, it's not wise to just take the P/E at face value as there may be an explanation why it's lofty.

As an illustration, earnings have deteriorated at Perma-Fix Environmental Services over the last year, which is not ideal at all. 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 Perma-Fix Environmental Services

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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 Perma-Fix Environmental Services' earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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

There's an inherent assumption that a company should outperform the market for P/E ratios like Perma-Fix Environmental Services' to be considered reasonable.

Retrospectively, the last year delivered a frustrating 18% decrease to the company's bottom line. At least EPS has managed not to go completely backwards from three years ago in aggregate, thanks to the earlier period of growth. So it appears to us that the company has had a mixed result in terms of growing earnings over that time.

This is in contrast to the rest of the market, which is expected to grow by 12% over the next year, materially higher than the company's recent medium-term annualised growth rates.

In light of this, it's alarming that Perma-Fix Environmental Services' P/E sits above the majority of other companies. Apparently many investors in the company are way more bullish than recent times would indicate and aren't willing to let go of their stock at any price. 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.

What We Can Learn From Perma-Fix Environmental Services' 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.

Our examination of Perma-Fix Environmental Services revealed its three-year earnings trends aren't impacting its high P/E anywhere near as much as we would have predicted, given they look worse than current market expectations. When we see weak earnings with slower than market growth, 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 is also worth noting that we have found 2 warning signs for Perma-Fix Environmental Services that you need to take into consideration.

You might be able to find a better investment than Perma-Fix Environmental Services. If you want a selection of possible candidates, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20x (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.

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