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China Online Education Group (NYSE:COE) Not Doing Enough For Some Investors As Its Shares Slump 31%

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To the annoyance of some shareholders, China Online Education Group (NYSE:COE) shares are down a considerable 31% in the last month, which continues a horrid run for the company. The recent drop completes a disastrous twelve months for shareholders, who are sitting on a 91% loss during that time.

Since its price has dipped substantially, China Online Education Group's price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 7.2x might make it look like a strong buy right now compared to the market in the United States, where around half of the companies have P/E ratios above 18x and even P/E's above 38x are quite common. However, the P/E might be quite low for a reason and it requires further investigation to determine if it's justified.

China Online Education Group could be doing better as its earnings have been going backwards lately while most other companies have been seeing positive earnings growth. The P/E is probably low because investors think this poor earnings performance isn't going to get any better. If you still 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 China Online Education Group

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Want the full picture on analyst estimates for the company? Then our free report on China Online Education Group will help you uncover what's on the horizon.

Does Growth Match The Low P/E?

China Online Education Group's P/E ratio would be typical for a company that's expected to deliver very poor growth or even falling earnings, and importantly, perform much worse 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 45%. Unfortunately, that's brought it right back to where it started three years ago with EPS growth being virtually non-existent overall during that time. So it appears to us that the company has had a mixed result in terms of growing earnings over that time.

Looking ahead now, EPS is anticipated to slump, contracting by 54% during the coming year according to the dual analysts following the company. That's not great when the rest of the market is expected to grow by 12%.

In light of this, it's understandable that China Online Education Group's P/E would sit below the majority of other companies. Nonetheless, there's no guarantee the P/E has reached a floor yet with earnings going in reverse. Even just maintaining these prices could be difficult to achieve as the weak outlook is weighing down the shares.

The Key Takeaway

Shares in China Online Education Group have plummeted and its P/E is now low enough to touch the ground. 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 China Online Education Group's analyst forecasts revealed that its outlook for shrinking earnings is contributing to its low P/E. At this stage investors feel the potential for an improvement in earnings isn't great enough to justify a higher P/E ratio. It's hard to see the share price rising strongly in the near future under these circumstances.

Plus, you should also learn about these 4 warning signs we've spotted with China Online Education Group (including 1 which is potentially serious).

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.

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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