Should You Sell CI Financial Corp (TSE:CIX) At This PE Ratio?

CI Financial Corp (TSX:CIX) trades with a trailing P/E of 14.3x, which is higher than the industry average of 13.5x. Although some investors may jump to the conclusion that you should avoid the stock or sell if you own it, understanding the assumptions behind the P/E ratio might change your mind. Today, I will break down what the P/E ratio is, how to interpret it and what to watch out for. Check out our latest analysis for CI Financial

Breaking down the Price-Earnings ratio

TSX:CIX PE PEG Gauge Apr 6th 18
TSX:CIX PE PEG Gauge Apr 6th 18

A common ratio used for relative valuation is the P/E ratio. By comparing a stock’s price per share to its earnings per share, we are able to see how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

Formula

Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share

P/E Calculation for CIX

Price per share = CA$27.05

Earnings per share = CA$1.891

∴ Price-Earnings Ratio = CA$27.05 ÷ CA$1.891 = 14.3x

The P/E ratio itself doesn’t tell you a lot; however, it becomes very insightful when you compare it with other similar companies. Ultimately, our goal is to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar attributes to CIX, such as company lifetime and products sold. A quick method of creating a peer group is to use companies in the same industry, which is what I will do. Since it is expected that similar companies have similar P/E ratios, we can come to some conclusions about the stock if the ratios are different.

At 14.3x, CIX’s P/E is higher than its industry peers (13.5x). This implies that investors are overvaluing each dollar of CIX’s earnings. Therefore, according to this analysis, CIX is an over-priced stock.

Assumptions to watch out for

Before you jump to the conclusion that CIX should be banished from your portfolio, it is important to realise that our conclusion rests on two important assertions. The first is that our “similar companies” are actually similar to CIX. If the companies aren’t similar, the difference in P/E might be a result of other factors. For example, if you are inadvertently comparing riskier firms with CIX, then CIX’s P/E would naturally be higher than its peers since investors would reward its lower risk with a higher price. The other possibility is if you were accidentally comparing lower growth firms with CIX. In this case, CIX’s P/E would be higher since investors would also reward CIX’s higher growth with a higher price. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing CIX to are fairly valued by the market. If this does not hold, there is a possibility that CIX’s P/E is higher because firms in our peer group are being undervalued by the market.

TSX:CIX Future Profit Apr 6th 18
TSX:CIX Future Profit Apr 6th 18

What this means for you:

Since you may have already conducted your due diligence on CIX, the overvaluation of the stock may mean it is a good time to reduce your current holdings. But at the end of the day, keep in mind that relative valuation relies heavily on critical assumptions I’ve outlined above. Remember that basing your investment decision off one metric alone is certainly not sufficient. There are many things I have not taken into account in this article and the PE ratio is very one-dimensional. If you have not done so already, I highly recommend you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for CIX’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for CIX’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has CIX been consistently performing well irrespective of the ups and downs in the market? Go into more detail in the past performance analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of CIX’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.