Unfortunately for some shareholders, the Selective Insurance Group (NASDAQ:SIGI) share price has dived 31% in the last thirty days. The recent drop has obliterated the annual return, with the share price now down 26% over that longer period.
Assuming nothing else has changed, a lower share price makes a stock more attractive to potential buyers. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. The implication here is that long term investors have an opportunity when expectations of a company are too low. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E implies that investors have high expectations of what a company can achieve compared to a company with a low P/E ratio.
Does Selective Insurance Group Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 10.34 that there is some investor optimism about Selective Insurance Group. As you can see below, Selective Insurance Group has a higher P/E than the average company (9.0) in the insurance industry.
Selective Insurance Group’s P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. If earnings are growing quickly, then the ‘E’ in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.
In the last year, Selective Insurance Group grew EPS like Taylor Swift grew her fan base back in 2010; the 51% gain was both fast and well deserved. And earnings per share have improved by 19% annually, over the last three years. So you might say it really deserves to have an above-average P/E ratio.
Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet
It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.
Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).
Is Debt Impacting Selective Insurance Group’s P/E?
Net debt totals just 9.5% of Selective Insurance Group’s market cap. So it doesn’t have as many options as it would with net cash, but its debt would not have much of an impact on its P/E ratio.
The Bottom Line On Selective Insurance Group’s P/E Ratio
Selective Insurance Group’s P/E is 10.3 which is below average (13.3) in the US market. The company does have a little debt, and EPS growth was good last year. The low P/E ratio suggests current market expectations are muted, implying these levels of growth will not continue. Given Selective Insurance Group’s P/E ratio has declined from 15.1 to 10.3 in the last month, we know for sure that the market is less confident about the business today, than it was back then. For those who prefer to invest with the flow of momentum, that might be a bad sign, but for a contrarian, it may signal opportunity.
Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.
Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Selective Insurance Group. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
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