United Rentals, Inc. (NYSE:URI) Stock Rockets 27% As Investors Are Less Pessimistic Than Expected

United Rentals, Inc. -0.72%

United Rentals, Inc.




United Rentals, Inc. (NYSE:URI) shareholders have had their patience rewarded with a 27% share price jump in the last month. The last 30 days bring the annual gain to a very sharp 63%.

Even after such a large jump in price, it's still not a stretch to say that United Rentals' price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 16.5x right now seems quite "middle-of-the-road" compared to the market in the United States, where the median P/E ratio is around 17x. However, investors might be overlooking a clear opportunity or potential setback if there is no rational basis for the P/E.

Recent times have been pleasing for United Rentals as its earnings have risen in spite of the market's earnings going into reverse. It might be that many expect the strong earnings performance to deteriorate like the rest, which has kept the P/E from rising. If not, then existing shareholders have reason to be feeling optimistic about the future direction of the share price.

See our latest analysis for United Rentals

NYSE:URI Price to Earnings Ratio vs Industry December 28th 2023
Keen to find out how analysts think United Rentals' future stacks up against the industry? In that case, our free report is a great place to start.

Does Growth Match The P/E?

In order to justify its P/E ratio, United Rentals would need to produce growth that's similar to the market.

Taking a look back first, we see that the company grew earnings per share by an impressive 27% last year. The latest three year period has also seen an excellent 177% overall rise in EPS, aided by its short-term performance. Therefore, it's fair to say the earnings growth recently has been superb for the company.

Shifting to the future, estimates from the analysts covering the company suggest earnings should grow by 9.3% per annum over the next three years. That's shaping up to be materially lower than the 13% per annum growth forecast for the broader market.

In light of this, it's curious that United Rentals' P/E sits in line with the majority of other companies. It seems most investors are ignoring the fairly limited growth expectations and are willing to pay up for exposure to the stock. These shareholders may be setting themselves up for future disappointment if the P/E falls to levels more in line with the growth outlook.

What We Can Learn From United Rentals' P/E?

Its shares have lifted substantially and now United Rentals' P/E is also back up to the market median. We'd say the price-to-earnings ratio's power isn't primarily as a valuation instrument but rather to gauge current investor sentiment and future expectations.

Our examination of United Rentals' analyst forecasts revealed that its inferior earnings outlook isn't impacting its P/E as much as we would have predicted. Right now we are uncomfortable with the P/E as the predicted future earnings aren't likely to support a more positive sentiment for long. Unless these conditions improve, it's challenging to accept these prices as being reasonable.

It's always necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with United Rentals, and understanding 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 low P/E.

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