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Does Bank of Hawaii Corporation’s (BOH) PE Ratio Warrant A Sell?

Wade Goff

Bank of Hawaii Corporation (NYSE:BOH) is trading with a trailing P/E of 18.3x, which is higher than the industry average of 17.8x. While BOH 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. In this article, 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 Bank of Hawaii

Breaking down the Price-Earnings ratio

NYSE:BOH PE PEG Gauge Nov 28th 17

P/E is a popular ratio used for relative valuation. 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 BOH

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

BOH Price-Earnings Ratio = $79.9 ÷ $4.374 = 18.3x

The P/E ratio itself doesn’t tell you a lot; however, it becomes very insightful when you compare it with other similar companies. Our goal is to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar attributes to BOH, such as company lifetime and products sold. One way of gathering a peer group is to use firms in the same industry, which is what I’ll do. Since BOH’s P/E of 18.3x is higher than its industry peers (17.8x), it means that investors are paying more than they should for each dollar of BOH’s earnings. As such, our analysis shows that BOH represents an over-priced stock.

A few caveats

While our conclusion might prompt you to sell your BOH shares immediately, there are two important assumptions you should be aware of. Firstly, our peer group contains companies that are similar to BOH. If this isn’t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to other factors. For example, if you compared lower risk firms with BOH, then investors would naturally value it at a lower price since it is a riskier investment. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing BOH to are fairly valued by the market. If this does not hold true, BOH’s lower P/E ratio may be because firms in our peer group are overvalued by the market.

What this means for you:

Are you a shareholder? Since you may have already conducted your due diligence on BOH, 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.

Are you a potential investor? If you are considering investing in BOH, basing your decision on the PE metric at one point in time is certainly not sufficient. I recommend you do additional analysis by looking at its intrinsic valuation and using other relative valuation ratios like PEG or EV/EBITDA.

PE is one aspect of your portfolio construction to consider when holding or entering into a stock. But it is certainly not the only factor. Take a look at our most recent infographic report on Bank of Hawaii for a more in-depth analysis of the stock to help you make a well-informed investment decision. Since we know a limitation of PE is it doesn’t properly account for growth, you can use our free platform to see my list of stocks with a high growth potential and see if their PE is still reasonable.


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.