Meta Data Limited (NYSE:AIU) Shares May Have Slumped 25% But Getting In Cheap Is Still Unlikely

Simply Wall St ·  Apr 12 18:01

Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Meta Data Limited (NYSE:AIU) share price has dived 25% in the last thirty days, prolonging recent pain. Instead of being rewarded, shareholders who have already held through the last twelve months are now sitting on a 42% share price drop.

In spite of the heavy fall in price, given close to half the companies operating in the United States' Consumer Services industry have price-to-sales ratios (or "P/S") below 1.2x, you may still consider Meta Data as a stock to potentially avoid with its 3.1x P/S ratio. Although, it's not wise to just take the P/S at face value as there may be an explanation why it's as high as it is.

NYSE:AIU Price to Sales Ratio vs Industry April 12th 2024

How Has Meta Data Performed Recently?

Meta Data certainly has been doing a great job lately as it's been growing its revenue at a really rapid pace. Perhaps the market is expecting future revenue performance to outperform the wider market, which has seemingly got people interested in the stock. If not, then existing shareholders might be a little nervous about the viability of the share price.

We don't have analyst forecasts, but you can see how recent trends are setting up the company for the future by checking out our free report on Meta Data's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Is There Enough Revenue Growth Forecasted For Meta Data?

There's an inherent assumption that a company should outperform the industry for P/S ratios like Meta Data's to be considered reasonable.

Taking a look back first, we see that the company's revenues underwent some rampant growth over the last 12 months. Although, its longer-term performance hasn't been anywhere near as strong with three-year revenue growth being relatively non-existent overall. Accordingly, shareholders probably wouldn't have been overly satisfied with the unstable medium-term growth rates.

Comparing the recent medium-term revenue trends against the industry's one-year growth forecast of 16% shows it's noticeably less attractive.

With this in mind, we find it worrying that Meta Data's P/S exceeds that of its industry peers. Apparently many investors in the company are way more bullish than recent times would indicate and aren't willing to let go of their stock at any price. Only the boldest would assume these prices are sustainable as a continuation of recent revenue trends is likely to weigh heavily on the share price eventually.

The Key Takeaway

Meta Data's P/S remain high even after its stock plunged. While the price-to-sales ratio shouldn't be the defining factor in whether you buy a stock or not, it's quite a capable barometer of revenue expectations.

The fact that Meta Data currently trades on a higher P/S relative to the industry is an oddity, since its recent three-year growth is lower than the wider industry forecast. When we see slower than industry revenue growth but an elevated P/S, there's considerable risk of the share price declining, sending the P/S lower. Unless there is a significant improvement in the company's medium-term performance, it will be difficult to prevent the P/S ratio from declining to a more reasonable level.

There are also other vital risk factors to consider and we've discovered 2 warning signs for Meta Data (1 is a bit concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

Of course, profitable companies with a history of great earnings growth are generally safer bets. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have reasonable P/E ratios and have grown earnings strongly.

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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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