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Does The Progressive Corporation’s (NYSE:PGR) PE Ratio Warrant A Sell?

Cole Patterson

The content of this article will benefit those of you who are starting to educate yourself about investing in the stock market and want to learn about the link between company’s fundamentals and stock market performance.

The Progressive Corporation (NYSE:PGR) trades with a trailing P/E of 18, which is higher than the industry average of 17. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Progressive

Breaking down the Price-Earnings ratio

NYSE:PGR PE PEG Gauge September 13th 18

P/E is a popular ratio used for relative valuation. By comparing a stock’s price per share to its earnings per share, we are able to see how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.

P/E Calculation for PGR

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

PGR Price-Earnings Ratio = $68.36 ÷ $3.808 = 18x

The P/E ratio isn’t a metric you view in isolation and only becomes useful when you compare it against other similar companies. We want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar characteristics as PGR, 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 PGR’s P/E of 18 is higher than its industry peers (17), it means that investors are paying more for each dollar of PGR’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 also say that the market is suggesting that PGR is a stronger business than the average comparable company.

Assumptions to watch out for

However, you should be aware that this analysis makes certain assumptions. The first is that our “similar companies” are actually similar to PGR. If not, the difference in P/E might be a result of other factors. For example, The Progressive Corporation 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 PGR are not fairly valued. So while we can reasonably surmise that it is optimistically valued relative to a peer group, it might be fairly valued, if the peer group is undervalued.

What this means for you:

You may have already conducted fundamental analysis on the stock as a shareholder, so its current overvaluation could signal a potential selling opportunity to reduce your exposure to PGR. Now that you understand the ins and outs of the PE metric, you should know to bear in mind its limitations before you make an investment decision. 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 PGR’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for PGR’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has PGR 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 PGR’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 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.