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Why Investors Shouldn't Be Surprised By The Charles Schwab Corporation's (NYSE:SCHW) P/E

With a price-to-earnings (or "P/E") ratio of 24.7x The Charles Schwab Corporation (NYSE:SCHW) may be sending very bearish signals at the moment, given that almost half of all companies in the United States have P/E ratios under 14x and even P/E's lower than 8x are not unusual. Although, it's not wise to just take the P/E at face value as there may be an explanation why it's so lofty.

Charles Schwab certainly has been doing a good job lately as it's been growing earnings more than most other companies. The P/E is probably high because investors think this strong earnings performance will continue. You'd really hope so, otherwise you're paying a pretty hefty price for no particular reason.

Check out our latest analysis for Charles Schwab

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

What Are Growth Metrics Telling Us About The High P/E?

In order to justify its P/E ratio, Charles Schwab would need to produce outstanding growth well in excess of the market.

Retrospectively, the last year delivered an exceptional 27% gain to the company's bottom line. EPS has also lifted 15% in aggregate from three years ago, mostly thanks to the last 12 months of growth. So we can start by confirming that the company has actually done a good job of growing earnings over that time.

Turning to the outlook, the next three years should generate growth of 21% each year as estimated by the analysts watching the company. That's shaping up to be materially higher than the 9.6% per annum growth forecast for the broader market.

With this information, we can see why Charles Schwab is trading at such a high P/E compared to the market. It seems most investors are expecting this strong future growth and are willing to pay more for the stock.

The Final Word

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 Charles Schwab's analyst forecasts revealed that its superior earnings outlook is contributing to its high P/E. At this stage investors feel the potential for a deterioration in earnings isn't great enough to justify a lower P/E ratio. It's hard to see the share price falling strongly in the near future under these circumstances.

You always need to take note of risks, for example - Charles Schwab has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

You might be able to find a better investment than Charles Schwab. If you want a selection of possible candidates, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20x (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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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