Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc.'s (NYSE:HOV) price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 24.1x 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 18x and even P/E's below 10x are quite common. Nonetheless, we'd need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a rational basis for the elevated P/E.
Recent times have been quite advantageous for Hovnanian Enterprises as its earnings have been rising very briskly. The P/E is probably high because investors think this strong earnings growth will be enough to outperform the broader market in the near future. If not, then existing shareholders might be a little nervous about the viability of the share price.
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 Hovnanian Enterprises' earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What Are Growth Metrics Telling Us About The High P/E?
In order to justify its P/E ratio, Hovnanian Enterprises would need to produce impressive growth in excess of the market.
Taking a look back first, we see that the company grew earnings per share by an impressive 59% last year. Still, EPS has barely risen at all from three years ago in total, which is not ideal. Accordingly, shareholders probably wouldn't have been overly satisfied with the unstable medium-term growth rates.
Comparing that to the market, which is predicted to deliver 5.1% growth in the next 12 months, the company's momentum is weaker based on recent medium-term annualised earnings results.
With this information, we find it concerning that Hovnanian Enterprises is trading at a P/E higher than the market. 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. There's a good chance existing shareholders are setting themselves up for future disappointment if the P/E falls to levels more in line with recent growth rates.
The Bottom Line On Hovnanian Enterprises' P/E
While the price-to-earnings ratio shouldn't be the defining factor in whether you buy a stock or not, it's quite a capable barometer of earnings expectations.
Our examination of Hovnanian Enterprises 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. Unless the recent medium-term conditions improve markedly, it's very challenging to accept these prices as being reasonable.
Plus, you should also learn about these 4 warning signs we've spotted with Hovnanian Enterprises (including 1 which doesn't sit too well with us).
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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