Glacier Bancorp Inc (NASDAQ:GBCI) trades with a trailing P/E of 22.2x, which is higher than the industry average of 16.4x. While GBCI 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. See our latest analysis for GBCI
Demystifying 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.
P/E Calculation for GBCI
Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share
GBCI Price-Earnings Ratio = $38.04 ÷ $1.717 = 22.2x
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 GBCI, such as company lifetime and products sold. A common peer group is companies that exist in the same industry, which is what I use. Since GBCI’s P/E of 22.2x is higher than its industry peers (16.4x), it means that investors are paying more than they should for each dollar of GBCI’s earnings. Therefore, according to this analysis, GBCI is an over-priced stock.
Assumptions to watch out for
However, before you rush out to sell your GBCI shares, it is important to note that this conclusion is based on two key assumptions. Firstly, our peer group contains companies that are similar to GBCI. 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 GBCI, 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 GBCI to are fairly valued by the market. If this is violated, GBCI’s P/E may be lower than its peers as they are actually overvalued by investors.
What this means for you:
Are you a shareholder? 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 GBCI. But keep in mind that the usefulness of relative valuation depends on whether you are comfortable with making the assumptions I mentioned above.
Are you a potential investor? If you are considering investing in GBCI, looking at the PE ratio on its own is not enough to make a well-informed decision. You will benefit from looking at additional analysis and considering its intrinsic valuation along with other relative valuation metrics like PEG and EV/Sales.
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 Glacier Bancorp 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.