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Read This Before You Buy Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:UVE) Because Of Its P/E Ratio

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The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc.'s (NYSE:UVE), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Based on the last twelve months, Universal Insurance Holdings's P/E ratio is 8.86. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 11%.

View our latest analysis for Universal Insurance Holdings

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Universal Insurance Holdings:

P/E of 8.86 = $29.8 ÷ $3.36 (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each $1 of company earnings. All else being equal, it's better to pay a low price -- but as Warren Buffett said, 'It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.'

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. When earnings grow, the 'E' increases, over time. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Universal Insurance Holdings maintained roughly steady earnings over the last twelve months. But it has grown its earnings per share by 14% per year over the last five years.

Does Universal Insurance Holdings Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

The P/E ratio indicates whether the market has higher or lower expectations of a company. The image below shows that Universal Insurance Holdings has a lower P/E than the average (17.6) P/E for companies in the insurance industry.

NYSE:UVE Price Estimation Relative to Market, May 9th 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Universal Insurance Holdings shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Many investors like to buy stocks when the market is pessimistic about their prospects. You should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.

A Limitation: P/E Ratios Ignore Debt and Cash In The Bank

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).

Universal Insurance Holdings's Balance Sheet

Universal Insurance Holdings has net cash of US$131m. This is fairly high at 13% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.

The Verdict On Universal Insurance Holdings's P/E Ratio

Universal Insurance Holdings's P/E is 8.9 which is below average (18.1) in the US market. Earnings improved over the last year. Also positive, the relatively strong balance sheet will allow for investment in growth. In contrast, the P/E indicates shareholders doubt that will happen!

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.