With a price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 5.4x Sylvamo Corporation (NYSE:SLVM) may be sending very bullish signals at the moment, given that almost half of all companies in the United States have P/E ratios greater than 15x and even P/E's higher than 30x are not unusual. Nonetheless, we'd need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a rational basis for the highly reduced P/E.
Sylvamo certainly has been doing a good job lately as it's been growing earnings more than most other companies. It might be that many expect the strong earnings performance to degrade substantially, which has repressed the P/E. If you like the company, you'd be hoping this isn't the case so that you could potentially pick up some stock while it's out of favour.
See our latest analysis for Sylvamo
If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report on Sylvamo.
Is There Any Growth For Sylvamo?
The only time you'd be truly comfortable seeing a P/E as depressed as Sylvamo's is when the company's growth is on track to lag the market decidedly.
If we review the last year of earnings growth, the company posted a terrific increase of 44%. Still, EPS has barely risen at all from three years ago in total, which is not ideal. So it appears to us that the company has had a mixed result in terms of growing earnings over that time.
Turning to the outlook, the next year should bring diminished returns, with earnings decreasing 11% as estimated by the only analyst watching the company. Meanwhile, the broader market is forecast to expand by 6.8%, which paints a poor picture.
In light of this, it's understandable that Sylvamo's P/E would sit below the majority of other companies. However, shrinking earnings are unlikely to lead to a stable P/E over the longer term. There's potential for the P/E to fall to even lower levels if the company doesn't improve its profitability.
The Bottom Line On Sylvamo's P/E
Using the price-to-earnings ratio alone to determine if you should sell your stock isn't sensible, however it can be a practical guide to the company's future prospects.
As we suspected, our examination of Sylvamo's analyst forecasts revealed that its outlook for shrinking earnings 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. It's hard to see the share price rising strongly in the near future under these circumstances.
It's always necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with Sylvamo, and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with a strong growth track record, trading on a P/E below 20x.
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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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