Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc (LON:SEPL) shareholders would be excited to see that the share price has had a great month, posting a 25% gain and recovering from prior weakness. Unfortunately, the gains of the last month did little to right the losses of the last year with the stock still down 43% over that time.
Although its price has surged higher, Seplat Petroleum Development may still be sending very bullish signals at the moment with its price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 7.6x, since almost half of all companies in the United Kingdom have P/E ratios greater than 18x and even P/E's higher than 37x are not unusual. However, the P/E might be quite low for a reason and it requires further investigation to determine if it's justified.
Recent times haven't been advantageous for Seplat Petroleum Development 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.
Keen to find out how analysts think Seplat Petroleum Development's future stacks up against the industry? In that case, our free report is a great place to start.
How Is Seplat Petroleum Development's Growth Trending?
Seplat Petroleum Development's P/E ratio would be typical for a company that's expected to deliver very poor growth or even falling earnings, and importantly, perform much worse than the market.
Taking a look back first, the company's earnings per share growth last year wasn't something to get excited about as it posted a disappointing decline of 72%. 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. So it appears to us that the company has had a mixed result in terms of growing earnings over that time.
Shifting to the future, estimates from the six analysts covering the company suggest earnings should grow by 31% per year over the next three years. Meanwhile, the rest of the market is forecast to only expand by 16% per year, which is noticeably less attractive.
In light of this, it's peculiar that Seplat Petroleum Development's P/E sits below the majority of other companies. It looks like most investors are not convinced at all that the company can achieve future growth expectations.
What We Can Learn From Seplat Petroleum Development's P/E?
Even after such a strong price move, Seplat Petroleum Development's P/E still trails the rest of the market significantly. 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 Seplat Petroleum Development currently trades on a much lower than expected P/E since its forecast growth is higher than the wider market. There could be some major unobserved threats to earnings preventing the P/E ratio from matching the positive outlook. It appears many are indeed anticipating earnings instability, because these conditions should normally provide a boost to the share price.
Before you take the next step, you should know about the 5 warning signs for Seplat Petroleum Development that we have uncovered.
It's important to make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20x).
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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