This stock is the most overvalued of all

The company plays by its own rules, ignoring demands to boost profits. And yet its value has soared.

By Benzinga May 15, 2014 3:44PM

Credit: © Rick Wilking

Caption: Boxes from Amazon.com are pictured on the porch of a houseBy Charley Blaine


The most overvalued stock, by more than a country mile, is . . .  Amazon (AMZN)!


The online retailing colossus sports the highest price-to-earnings ratio among stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX): a whopping 462 times its trailing 12-month earnings.


Amazon's P/E ratio, based on Wednesday's closing price of $297.62, down 2.3 percent on the day, is 25 times the overall P/E ratio of stocks in the S&P 500, which was 17.9 last Friday.


For most, Amazon's P/E, based on trailing 12-months' earnings, suggests a stock that's wildly overvalued and primed to fall. It already has suffered a big pullback, falling nearly 27 percent since its intraday peak of $408.06 reached on Jan. 22. The question is whether there's more damage ahead for the stock.

Following Amazon on the list of enormous P/E ratios were Vulcan Materials (VMC), Consol Energy (CNX), and online video merchant Netflix (NFLX). All had P/E ratios above 100.


Overvalued market?

The huge size of those P/E ratios feed into the belief of many that the stock market is overvalued (some would say grossly overvalued) and ready to tumble after more than five years of gains. Wednesday stocks did slide lower, with the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) down 101 points to 16,614. The point loss was its largest since a 130-point loss on May 6.


The S&P 500 fell 9 points to 1,889 with only 131 stocks in the index showing gains. The decline did little to change which stocks are overvalued in a conventional sense, with Amazon remaining the leader.


Amazon, of course, plays by its own rules, ignoring demands to boost profits. Instead, it concentrates on cutting prices while expanding services, all in hopes of maximizing revenue. And so its P/E ratio expanded dramatically, soaring past 600 in the first quarter alone.


The big rally since March 2009 has pushed prices sharply higher; the S&P 500 is up about 180 percent in that time. Lately, however, the P/E ratios have pulled back. The S&P 500's 17.9 P/E ratio on Friday was down from 19 a year ago. The 12-month forward P/E ratio is 15.8.


Overvalued stocks by trailing P/E

Here's a look at the 10 companies in the S&P 500 with the highest P/E ratios:


Amazon.com

Wednesday close $297.62, down 2.3 percent.

P/E ratio: 462.

52-week price range: $258.34 to $408.06.

Many investors still admire the company's strategic tenacity.


Vulcan Materials

Wednesday close: $60.88 down 1.3 percent.

P/E ratio: 259.

52-week price range: $46.21 to $69.50.

The producer of asphalt, cement and other heavy construction materials recently reported a narrower-than-expected operating loss.


Consol Energy

Wednesday close: $43.88, up 0.3 percent.

P/E ratio: 153.

52-week price range: $26.25 to $45.57.

The oil-and-gas producer is a big player in oil-and-gas shale deposits in the eastern United States. It also has a big coal business. Higher energy prices are helping. But a big question is: How long will those high prices last?


Netflix

Wednesday close: $351.88, up 1.4 percent.

P/E ratio: 130.

52-week price range: $205.75 to $458.00.

The video-streaming company is expanding its offerings in the United States and in Europe. It made peace with Comcast (CMCSA), ensuring its video streams will reach customers efficiently.


Peabody Energy (BTU)

Wednesday close: $19.13, up 1.4 percent.

P/E ratio: 101.

52-week price range: $14.34 to $21.85.

Coal stocks began to rise this year after several years of battering, with stock price growth much greater than earnings. A recent upgrade from Morgan Stanley helped.


Crown Castle International (CCI)

Wednesday close: $77.28, up 0.1 percent.

P/E ratio: 92.

52-week price range: $66.73 to $79.31.

The company is one of the big owner/managers of cell-phone towers. Hardly a business where demand is falling.


Facebook (FB)

Wednesday close: $59.23, down 1 percent.

P/E ratio: 80.

52-week price range: $22.67 to $72.59.

Investors are in thrall with Facebook's rapid expansion into mobile advertising. If there are risks, it's CEO Mark Zuckerberg's near-total control of the company and the company's willingness to pay billions for acquisitions with technologies that may not be entirely proven.


Adobe Systems (ADBE)

Wednesday close: $60.88, up 0.1 percent.

P/E ratio: 77.

52-week price range: $41.91 to $71.11.

This is a stock that got way ahead of itself, rising 59 percent in 2013, even as reported earnings have been falling. It added 16.3 percent this year until it peaked on February 27. It's off 14.3 percent since.


Range Resources (RRC)

Wednesday close: $89.08, down 0.2 percent.

P/E ratio: 73.

52-week price range: $72.54 to $95.41.

The company is a successful player in the development of natural gas and crude oil in shale deposits, and investors expect more from it.


Leucadia National (LUK)

Wednesday close: 25.48, down 0.04 percent.

P/E ratio: 64.

52-week price range: $24.70 to $32.19.

The conglomerate owns lumber and food processing companies, auto dealerships, a mortgage business and the investment bank Jefferies LLC.


Overvalued stocks by forward P/E

Amazon's forward P/E ratio, which looks at price now compared with expected earnings by the end of this year, is nearly as gaudy: about 159, compared with the S&P 500's forward P/E of 15.82.


Here are the top 10 stocks ranked by forward P/E:


Allegheny Technologies (ATI)

Forward P/E: 121.

Wednesday close: $41.86, down 0.3 percent.

52-week price range: $22.67 to $72.59.


Salesforce.com (CRM)

Forward P/E: 107.

Wednesday close: $51.88, down 0.8 percent.

52-week price range: $36.09 to $67.

The largest maker of customer relationship software, Salesforce.com has been a Wall Street darling.


Netflix

Forward P/E: 98.


Vulcan Materials

Forward P/E: 68.


Crown Castle International

Forward P/E: 63.


Adobe Systems

Forward P/E: 55.


Under Armour (UA)

Wednesday close: $47.32, down 1.6 percent.

52-week price range: $27:82: to $62.40.

The athletic apparel maker reported 36 percent revenue growth in its fiscal-first quarter. That's a gain that will be hard to beat.


Facebook

Forward P/E: 47.


Range Resources

Forward P/E: 45.


More from Benzinga

7Comments
May 16, 2014 8:38AM
avatar
Revenge and daman - A complete pair of idiots.
May 15, 2014 4:04PM
avatar
Can anyone say Apple

this stock is so over hyped its unbelievable!
May 15, 2014 4:55PM
avatar

Agree, I think APPLE is worse than Amazon by far. They have the younger crowd thinking Apple is all that, as well their phones and technology, when in fact their computers don't hold a shin to Microsoft based units and their phones are less than 5% of those used.  Way to much BS around Apple and I think it will all come to a head soon, since Job's can't protect them anymore!


May 15, 2014 4:56PM
avatar
Stocks is not over value. It's the weather. So is the rigged economy don't matters.
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