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Investors Don't See Light At End Of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.'s (NYSE:GS) Tunnel

When close to half the companies in the United States have price-to-earnings ratios (or "P/E's") above 14x, you may consider The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) as a highly attractive investment with its 6.3x P/E ratio. Nonetheless, we'd need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a rational basis for the highly reduced P/E.

Goldman Sachs Group could be doing better as its earnings have been going backwards lately while most other companies have been seeing positive earnings growth. It seems that many are expecting the dour earnings performance to persist, which has repressed the P/E. 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 Goldman Sachs Group

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Keen to find out how analysts think Goldman Sachs Group's future stacks up against the industry? In that case, our free report is a great place to start.

How Is Goldman Sachs Group's Growth Trending?

There's an inherent assumption that a company should far underperform the market for P/E ratios like Goldman Sachs Group's to be considered reasonable.

Retrospectively, the last year delivered a frustrating 19% decrease to the company's bottom line. Still, the latest three year period has seen an excellent 100% overall rise in EPS, in spite of its unsatisfying short-term performance. Although it's been a bumpy ride, it's still fair to say the earnings growth recently has been more than adequate for the company.

Turning to the outlook, the next three years should bring diminished returns, with earnings decreasing 3.5% each year as estimated by the analysts watching the company. With the market predicted to deliver 9.6% growth each year, that's a disappointing outcome.

With this information, we are not surprised that Goldman Sachs Group is trading at a P/E lower than the market. However, shrinking earnings are unlikely to lead to a stable P/E over the longer term. Even just maintaining these prices could be difficult to achieve as the weak outlook is weighing down the shares.

The Final Word

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.

As we suspected, our examination of Goldman Sachs Group's analyst forecasts revealed that its outlook for shrinking earnings is contributing to its low P/E. Right now shareholders are accepting the low P/E as they concede future earnings probably won't provide any pleasant surprises. It's hard to see the share price rising strongly in the near future under these circumstances.

You should always think about risks. Case in point, we've spotted 2 warning signs for Goldman Sachs Group you should be aware of.

It's important to make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20x).

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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