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Is CNO Financial Group Inc (NYSE:CNO) A Sell At Its Current PE Ratio?

Bernadette Hatcher

This analysis is intended to introduce important early concepts to people who are starting to invest and want to better understand how you can grow your money by investing in CNO Financial Group Inc (NYSE:CNO).

CNO Financial Group Inc (NYSE:CNO) trades with a trailing P/E of 16.9x, which is higher than the industry average of 14.3x. While CNO might seem like a stock to avoid or sell if you own it, it is important to understand the assumptions behind the P/E ratio before you make any investment decisions. Today, I will explain what the P/E ratio is as well as what you should look out for when using it. View out our latest analysis for CNO Financial Group

Breaking down the P/E ratio

NYSE:CNO PE PEG Gauge June 22nd 18

A common ratio used for relative valuation is the P/E ratio. 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.

P/E Calculation for CNO

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

CNO Price-Earnings Ratio = $19.86 ÷ $1.173 = 16.9x

On its own, the P/E ratio doesn’t tell you much; however, it becomes extremely useful when you compare it with other similar companies. We want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar characteristics as CNO, 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. At 16.9x, CNO’s P/E is higher than its industry peers (14.3x). This implies that investors are overvaluing each dollar of CNO’s earnings. Therefore, according to this analysis, CNO is an over-priced stock.

Assumptions to be aware of

Before you jump to the conclusion that CNO should be banished from your portfolio, it is important to realise that our conclusion rests on two assertions. Firstly, our peer group contains companies that are similar to CNO. If this isn’t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to other factors. For example, if you are comparing lower risk firms with CNO, then its P/E would naturally be lower than its peers, as investors would value those with lower risk at a higher price. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing CNO to are fairly valued by the market. If this is violated, CNO’s P/E may be lower than its peers as they are actually overvalued by investors.

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 CNO. 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 CNO’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for CNO’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has CNO 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 CNO’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.


To help readers see pass 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.