U.S. Markets closed

Is Northern Trust Corporation’s (NASDAQ:NTRS) PE Ratio A Signal To Sell For Investors?

Dane Simmons

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 begin learning the link between Northern Trust Corporation (NASDAQ:NTRS)’s fundamentals and stock market performance.

Northern Trust Corporation (NASDAQ:NTRS) is trading with a trailing P/E of 19.3x, which is higher than the industry average of 16x. While NTRS 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 deconstruct the P/E ratio and highlight what you need to be careful of when using the P/E ratio. See our latest analysis for Northern Trust

Demystifying the P/E ratio

NasdaqGS:NTRS PE PEG Gauge June 27th 18

The P/E ratio is one of many ratios used in 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 NTRS

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

NTRS Price-Earnings Ratio = $104.92 ÷ $5.446 = 19.3x

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 preferably want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar features to NTRS, such as capital structure and profitability. One way of gathering a peer group is to use firms in the same industry, which is what I’ll do. At 19.3x, NTRS’s P/E is higher than its industry peers (16x). This implies that investors are overvaluing each dollar of NTRS’s earnings. As such, our analysis shows that NTRS represents an over-priced stock.

A few caveats

However, before you rush out to sell your NTRS shares, it is important to note that this conclusion is based on two key assumptions. The first is that our “similar companies” are actually similar to NTRS, or else the difference in P/E might be a result of other factors. For example, if you compared higher growth firms with NTRS, 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 NTRS to are fairly valued by the market. If this does not hold true, NTRS’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 NTRS, 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. 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 NTRS’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for NTRS’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has NTRS 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 NTRS’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.