Risks To Shareholder Returns Are Elevated At These Prices For QUALCOMM Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM)

QUALCOMM Incorporated -0.85% Pre

QUALCOMM Incorporated

QCOM

169.84

169.20

-0.85%

-0.38% Pre

When close to half the companies in the United States have price-to-earnings ratios (or "P/E's") below 16x, you may consider QUALCOMM Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM) as a stock to potentially avoid with its 22.1x P/E ratio. Nonetheless, we'd need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a rational basis for the elevated P/E.

With earnings that are retreating more than the market's of late, QUALCOMM has been very sluggish. One possibility is that the P/E is high because investors think the company will turn things around completely and accelerate past most others in the market. You'd really hope so, otherwise you're paying a pretty hefty price for no particular reason.

See our latest analysis for QUALCOMM

pe-multiple-vs-industry
NasdaqGS:QCOM Price to Earnings Ratio vs Industry December 29th 2023
Want the full picture on analyst estimates for the company? Then our free report on QUALCOMM will help you uncover what's on the horizon.

Is There Enough Growth For QUALCOMM?

QUALCOMM's P/E ratio would be typical for a company that's expected to deliver solid growth, and importantly, perform better 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 43%. Still, the latest three year period has seen an excellent 44% overall rise in EPS, in spite of its unsatisfying short-term performance. Accordingly, while they would have preferred to keep the run going, shareholders would probably welcome the medium-term rates of earnings growth.

Shifting to the future, estimates from the analysts covering the company suggest earnings should grow by 14% each year over the next three years. That's shaping up to be similar to the 13% per annum growth forecast for the broader market.

With this information, we find it interesting that QUALCOMM is trading at a high P/E compared to the market. Apparently many investors in the company are more bullish than analysts indicate and aren't willing to let go of their stock right now. Although, additional gains will be difficult to achieve as this level of earnings growth is likely to weigh down the share price eventually.

The Final Word

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.

We've established that QUALCOMM currently trades on a higher than expected P/E since its forecast growth is only in line with the wider market. When we see an average earnings outlook with market-like growth, we suspect the share price is at risk of declining, sending the high P/E lower. Unless these conditions improve, it's challenging to accept these prices as being reasonable.

We don't want to rain on the parade too much, but we did also find 2 warning signs for QUALCOMM that you need to be mindful of.

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

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