Should You Be Tempted To Sell NI Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:NODK) Because Of Its PE Ratio?

This analysis is intended to introduce important early concepts to people who are starting to invest and want to begin learning about how to value company based on its current earnings and what are the drawbacks of this method.

NI Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:NODK) trades with a trailing P/E of 21.4, which is higher than the industry average of 17.9. Though this might seem to be a negative, you might change your mind after I explain the assumptions behind the P/E ratio. Today, I will explain what the P/E ratio is as well as what you should look out for when using it.

What you need to know about the P/E ratio

P/E is often used for relative valuation since earnings power is a chief driver of investment value. It compares a stock’s price per share to the stock’s earnings per share. A more intuitive way of understanding the P/E ratio is to think of it as 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 NODK

Price per share = \$16.75

Earnings per share = \$0.784

∴ Price-Earnings Ratio = \$16.75 ÷ \$0.784 = 21.4x

The P/E ratio itself doesn’t tell you a lot; however, it becomes very insightful when you compare it with other similar companies. Ideally, we want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar characteristics as NODK, such as size and country of operation. 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 21.4, NODK’s P/E is higher than its industry peers (17.9). This implies that investors are overvaluing each dollar of NODK’s earnings. This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 25 Insurance companies in US including Genworth Financial, Syncora Holdings and Reinsurance Group of America. You could think of it like this: the market is pricing NODK as if it is a stronger company than the average of its industry group.

A few caveats

However, it is important to note that our examination of the stock is based on certain assumptions. Firstly, that our peer group contains companies that are similar to NODK. If this isn’t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to other factors. For example, NI Holdings Inc could be growing more quickly than the companies we’re comparing it with. In that case it would deserve a higher P/E ratio. Of course, it is possible that the stocks we are comparing with NODK are not fairly valued. Thus while we might conclude that it is richly valued relative to its peers, that could be explained by the peer group being undervalued.

What this means for you:

If your personal research into the stock confirms what the P/E ratio is telling you, it might be a good time to rebalance your portfolio and reduce your holdings in NODK. But keep in mind that the usefulness of relative valuation depends on whether you are comfortable with making the assumptions I mentioned 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 urge you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for NODK’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for NODK’s outlook.
2. Financial Health: Are NODK’s operations financially sustainable? Balance sheets can be hard to analyze, which is why we’ve done it for you. Check out our financial health checks here.
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.

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.