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A Rising Share Price Has Us Looking Closely At Continental Resources, Inc.'s (NYSE:CLR) P/E Ratio

Simply Wall St

Those holding Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR) shares must be pleased that the share price has rebounded 48% in the last thirty days. But unfortunately, the stock is still down by 69% over a quarter. But that will do little to salve the savage burn caused by the 78% share price decline, over the last year.

All else being equal, a sharp share price increase should make a stock less attractive to potential investors. In the long term, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, but in the short term prices bounce around in response to short term factors (which are not always obvious). So some would prefer to hold off buying when there is a lot of optimism towards a stock. Perhaps the simplest way to get a read on investors' expectations of a business is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). Investors have optimistic expectations of companies with higher P/E ratios, compared to companies with lower P/E ratios.

View our latest analysis for Continental Resources

How Does Continental Resources's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

Continental Resources's P/E of 4.99 indicates relatively low sentiment towards the stock. We can see in the image below that the average P/E (7.9) for companies in the oil and gas industry is higher than Continental Resources's P/E.

NYSE:CLR Price Estimation Relative to Market April 8th 2020

Continental Resources's P/E tells us that market participants think it will not fare as well as its peers in the same industry. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Continental Resources saw earnings per share decrease by 21% last year. And it has shrunk its earnings per share by 4.6% per year over the last five years. This growth rate might warrant a below average P/E ratio.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

It's important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

Is Debt Impacting Continental Resources's P/E?

Continental Resources has net debt worth a very significant 137% of its market capitalization. This level of debt justifies a relatively low P/E, so remain cognizant of the debt, if you're comparing it to other stocks.

The Verdict On Continental Resources's P/E Ratio

Continental Resources has a P/E of 5.0. That's below the average in the US market, which is 13.0. The P/E reflects market pessimism that probably arises from the lack of recent EPS growth, paired with significant leverage. What we know for sure is that investors are becoming less uncomfortable about Continental Resources's prospects, since they have pushed its P/E ratio from 3.4 to 5.0 over the last month. For those who like to invest in turnarounds, that might mean it's time to put the stock on a watchlist, or research it. But others might consider the opportunity to have passed.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Continental Resources. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.