Some Shareholders Feeling Restless Over Humana Inc.'s (NYSE:HUM) P/E Ratio

When close to half the companies in the United States have price-to-earnings ratios (or "P/E's") below 13x, you may consider Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM) as a stock to potentially avoid with its 19.5x P/E ratio. Although, it's not wise to just take the P/E at face value as there may be an explanation why it's lofty.

With earnings growth that's superior to most other companies of late, Humana has been doing relatively well. It seems that many are expecting the strong earnings performance to persist, which has raised the P/E. If not, then existing shareholders might be a little nervous about the viability of the share price.

View our latest analysis for Humana

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If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report on Humana.

How Is Humana's Growth Trending?

In order to justify its P/E ratio, Humana would need to produce impressive growth in excess of the market.

If we review the last year of earnings growth, the company posted a terrific increase of 29%. The strong recent performance means it was also able to grow EPS by 35% in total over the last three years. Therefore, it's fair to say the earnings growth recently has been superb for the company.

Turning to the outlook, the next three years should generate growth of 11% per year as estimated by the analysts watching the company. Meanwhile, the rest of the market is forecast to expand by 9.6% each year, which is not materially different.

In light of this, it's curious that Humana's P/E sits above the majority of other companies. Apparently many investors in the company are more bullish than analysts indicate and aren't willing to let go of their stock right now. These shareholders may be setting themselves up for disappointment if the P/E falls to levels more in line with the growth outlook.

What We Can Learn From Humana's 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 Humana's analyst forecasts revealed that its market-matching earnings outlook isn't impacting its high P/E as much as we would have predicted. Right now we are uncomfortable with the relatively high share price as the predicted future earnings aren't likely to support such positive sentiment for long. Unless these conditions improve, it's challenging to accept these prices as being reasonable.

Don't forget that there may be other risks. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for Humana that you should be aware of.

If you're unsure about the strength of Humana's business, why not explore our interactive list of stocks with solid business fundamentals for some other companies you may have missed.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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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