Should We Worry About ICC Holdings, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:ICCH) P/E Ratio?

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at ICC Holdings, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:ICCH) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. ICC Holdings has a price to earnings ratio of 62.95, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $62.95 for every $1 in prior year profit.

See our latest analysis for ICC Holdings

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for ICC Holdings:

P/E of 62.95 = $13.95 ÷ $0.22 (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

P/E ratios primarily reflect market expectations around earnings growth rates. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a high multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become lower in the future. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

ICC Holdings shrunk earnings per share by 53% over the last year.

How Does ICC Holdings’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. You can see in the image below that the average P/E (13.5) for companies in the insurance industry is a lot lower than ICC Holdings’s P/E.

NasdaqCM:ICCH PE PEG Gauge January 9th 19
NasdaqCM:ICCH PE PEG Gauge January 9th 19

Its relatively high P/E ratio indicates that ICC Holdings shareholders think it will perform better than other companies in its industry classification. The market is optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t guarantee future growth. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don’t Consider The Balance Sheet

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. Thus, the metric does not reflect cash or debt held by the company. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

ICC Holdings’s Balance Sheet

ICC Holdings’s net debt is 1.9% of its market cap. The market might award it a higher P/E ratio if it had net cash, but its unlikely this low level of net borrowing is having a big impact on the P/E multiple.

The Verdict On ICC Holdings’s P/E Ratio

ICC Holdings trades on a P/E ratio of 62.9, which is multiples above the US market average of 16.7. With a bit of debt, but a lack of recent growth, it’s safe to say the market is expecting improved profit performance from the company, in the next few years.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. People often underestimate remarkable growth — so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. We don’t have analyst forecasts, but you might want to assess this data-rich visualization of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But note: ICC Holdings may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.