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Centrica plc (LON:CNA), might not be a large cap stock, but it saw a double-digit share price rise of over 10% in the past couple of months on the LSE. As a mid-cap stock with high coverage by analysts, you could assume any recent changes in the company’s outlook is already priced into the stock. However, what if the stock is still a bargain? Today I will analyse the most recent data on Centrica’s outlook and valuation to see if the opportunity still exists.
Good news, investors! Centrica is still a bargain right now according to my price multiple model, which compares the company's price-to-earnings ratio to the industry average. I’ve used the price-to-earnings ratio in this instance because there’s not enough visibility to forecast its cash flows. The stock’s ratio of 3.65x is currently well-below the industry average of 16.77x, meaning that it is trading at a cheaper price relative to its peers. Although, there may be another chance to buy again in the future. This is because Centrica’s beta (a measure of share price volatility) is high, meaning its price movements will be exaggerated relative to the rest of the market. If the market is bearish, the company’s shares will likely fall by more than the rest of the market, providing a prime buying opportunity.
Future outlook is an important aspect when you’re looking at buying a stock, especially if you are an investor looking for growth in your portfolio. Buying a great company with a robust outlook at a cheap price is always a good investment, so let’s also take a look at the company's future expectations. Though in the case of Centrica, it is expected to deliver a highly negative earnings growth in the next few years, which doesn’t help build up its investment thesis. It appears that risk of future uncertainty is high, at least in the near term.
Are you a shareholder? Although CNA is currently trading below the industry PE ratio, the negative profit outlook does bring on some uncertainty, which equates to higher risk. I recommend you think about whether you want to increase your portfolio exposure to CNA, or whether diversifying into another stock may be a better move for your total risk and return.
Are you a potential investor? If you’ve been keeping an eye on CNA for a while, but hesitant on making the leap, I recommend you dig deeper into the stock. Given its current price multiple, now is a great time to make a decision. But keep in mind the risks that come with negative growth prospects in the future.
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