This article is intended for those of you who are at the beginning of your investing journey and want to learn about the link between company’s fundamentals and stock market performance.
CIT Group Inc (NYSE:CIT) is currently trading at a trailing P/E of 16.2, which is close to the industry average of 16.3. While CIT might seem like an attractive stock to buy, it is important to understand the assumptions behind the P/E ratio before you make any investment decisions. In this article, I will deconstruct the P/E ratio and highlight what you need to be careful of when using the P/E ratio.
What you need to know about the P/E ratio
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 CIT
Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share
CIT Price-Earnings Ratio = $46.52 ÷ $2.868 = 16.2x
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. Our goal is to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar attributes to CIT, 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. CIT Group Inc (NYSE:CIT) is trading with a trailing P/E of 16.2, which is close to the industry average of 16.3. This multiple is a median of profitable companies of 25 Banks companies in US including CIB Marine Bancshares, Citizens Commerce Bancshares and Limestone Bancorp. You can think of it like this: the market is suggesting that CIT has similar prospects to its peers in the same industry.
A few caveats
However, there are two important assumptions you should be aware of. The first is that our “similar companies” are actually similar to CIT, or else the difference in P/E might be a result of other factors. For example, if you compared higher growth firms with CIT, then its P/E would naturally be lower since investors would reward its peers’ higher growth with a higher price. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing CIT to are fairly valued by the market. If this does not hold true, CIT’s lower P/E ratio may be because firms in our peer group are overvalued by the market.
What this means for you:
Since you may have already conducted your due diligence on CIT, the undervaluation of the stock may mean it is a good time to top up on 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:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for CIT’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for CIT’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has CIT 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 CIT’s historicals for more clarity.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.