Investing

11 Very Popular Stocks Now Valued Over 50 Times Earnings

2014 has been another great year for stocks, with gains of more than 10% in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and in the S&P 500 Index. That being said, some investors have started to wonder about actual valuations of the major stocks, now that the bull market is nearing six years old. Now that the calendar is reaching the holidays and year-end, many investors have started deciding which stocks to sell and which ones they may want to buy.

So, what is an investor supposed to think about when a stock trades at over 50 times earnings? 24/7 Wall St. has identified 11 large and well-known stocks that are valued at over 50 times earnings. Many investors may just automatically assume that a stock is expensive at over 50 times earnings. It turns out that this may be very true in some cases and not so true in others.

The first of the criteria we evaluated was that each stock had to be valued at 50 times next year’s consensus earnings estimates. Most companies were generally profitable or had been profitable prior to this year, and all are expected to be profitable in 2015. Another of the criteria was that each had to have a market cap of over $5 billion, so they are well-known and generally established beyond the realm of small-cap and micro-cap stocks.

Due to having such high implied valuations, most of these are in technology of some sort — online retail, biotech and health care, software and consumer electronics — but one was a car maker and one was in apparel. Again, all of these companies should now be well-known to most investors and at least somewhat known to non-investors.

The late-2014 list of stocks valued at over 50 times earnings included large and well-known companies like Amazon, GoPro, Illumina, Netflix, Palo Alto Networks, Pharmacyclics, Rackspace, Salesforce.com, SBA Communications, Tesla Motors and Under Armour.

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When we first looked for these companies, the automatic assumption is that they would be very “expensive.” It turns out that value is often relative, and many of these companies still seem as though they have great prospects ahead. 24/7 Wall St. has added specific color on each company and outlined what each one has going for it or working against it. These have been listed alphabetically, with share performance in 2014, revenue expectations for 2015, expected price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios for 2014 and 2015 (or current and following fiscal year if off-calendar years), and the market cap and growth metrics.

Amazon.com

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) does not technically have a P/E ratio for the 2014 fiscal year because it is not expected to have any earnings, but the company could be profitable if it wanted to be. Amazon’s P/E ratio for next year is 341 times expected earnings. The company has a market cap of $142 billion, and total revenues for the coming year are expected to be up 18% to $105.89 billion. At $308.30, its 52-week trading range is $284.00 to $408.06, and the consensus analyst price target is $357.16. Amazon is the worst performer of the group, with a loss of 22% year-to-date in 2014.

Jeff Bezos has been running Amazon.com almost like a charity, and he has gone on record saying that he will keep taking big chances if the payday is large enough. The company now is expected to have a loss in 2014, but that was not the case at the start of 2014. Amazon also did post operating profits in three of the past four years, before the company rekindled its expensive growth initiatives. This company could be wildly profitable, but it loses money and hurts its brick-and-mortar competitors handily. Should this company be given this high of a valuation after having been public more than 15 years?

GoPro

GoPro Inc. (NASDAQ: GPRO) has a P/E ratio of 66 for the 2014 fiscal year expected earnings and is valued at 53 times the next fiscal year’s expected earnings. The company has a market cap of $8 billion, and total revenues for the coming year are expected to be up 23% to $1.65 billion. At $66.64, its 52-week trading range is $28.65 to $98.47, and the consensus analyst price target is $82.00. GoPro has gained a whopping 180% since its initial public offering (IPO).

GoPro was obviously one of the best IPOs of 2014, and the wearable camera maker for sports and recreation enthusiasts has taken the world over by storm. Still, there have been concerns about how the company can keep growing its core market. Perhaps new recorders that are in high-demand this holiday season will be the driver ahead, but lower-priced competition is available. That answer may simply by opening up the GoPro Media Network, a crowd-sourced content destination on TV and online for watching extreme sports and other media made with GoPro.

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