At first glance it seems to be business as usual for the shares of the UKs leading online takeaway service,Just Eat(LSE: JE). However, there could be something going on behind the scenes, as data shows that Just Eat is one of the most traded companies in London today.
Specifically, at time of writing over 16 million Just Eat shares have changed hands today, compared to the companys average daily volume of around 1m shares.
There are many possible explanations as to why Just Eat could have suddenly become so popular. The most likely explanation is that a fund manager has decided to build up a stake in the company, buying the funds holding all in one go. But should you follow suit?
A risky bet
Just Eats growth since coming to market early this year has been nothing short of impressive. The companys recent interim management statement, released at the beginning of November, showed that total orders in thethree months to 30 September increased by 56% compared to the year ago period.
Just Eat is also expanding rapidly around the world. During the quarter the group created the clear market leader in the Brazilian online delivery food market by establishing a joint venture with the Brazilian operator, iFood. Whats more, Just Eat consolidated its leading position in the French online takeaway food market acquiring control of Alloresto.fr.
Still, even though Just Eat is growing rapidly, if you want to get your hands on the companys shares youre going to have to pay a premium price. Indeed, the company currently trades at a forward P/E of 104, a lofty valuation that could scare many investors away.
That being said, with City analysts currently predicting earnings per share growth of 327%, Just Eat currently trades at a PEG ratio of 0.3, indicating growth at a reasonable price. Forecasts for 2016 indicate that Just Eat is trading at a 2016 P/E of 60.
Unfortunately, these eye watering valuations do not leave much room for error. If Just Eat fails to meet the Citys lofty growth expectations then the companys shares could plummet.
One of Just Eats most attractive qualities is the groups cash generative nature. In particular, like many online businesses Just Eats overhead costs are low, so the company is able to convert most of its profit into cash and theres almost no need for heft capital spending. During the first half of the year the group generated nearly 15.4m in cash from operations, nearly 200% of profit before tax.
Overall, Just Eat reported a net cash balance of approximately 154m at the end of the first half, around 27p per share. With thislarge and growing cash balance, the skys the limit for Just Eat.
Its up to you
All in all, Just Eats rapid growth and hefty cash balance make the company look like a great investment. However, the companys lofty valuation is concerning and the shares could quickly fall back to earth if Just Eat fails to meet City predictions.
The best way to invest in high-growth companies like Just Eat is to use a basket approach. A basket of risky high-growth shares andreliable dividend-paying stocks, reduces risk and allows you to sleep soundly at night.
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Rupert Hargreaves has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don’t all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.