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Is Reinsurance Group of America, Incorporated's (NYSE:RGA) P/E Ratio Really That Good?

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll show how you can use Reinsurance Group of America, Incorporated's (NYSE:RGA) P/E ratio to inform your assessment of the investment opportunity. Based on the last twelve months, Reinsurance Group of America's P/E ratio is 13.80. That corresponds to an earnings yield of approximately 7.2%.

View our latest analysis for Reinsurance Group of America

How Do I Calculate Reinsurance Group of America's Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

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

Or for Reinsurance Group of America:

P/E of 13.80 = $163.93 ÷ $11.88 (Based on the year to September 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that buyers have to pay a higher price for each $1 the company has earned over the last year. That isn't necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

Does Reinsurance Group of America Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. The image below shows that Reinsurance Group of America has a lower P/E than the average (16.7) P/E for companies in the insurance industry.

NYSE:RGA Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 11th 2019

This suggests that market participants think Reinsurance Group of America will underperform other companies in its industry. Since the market seems unimpressed with Reinsurance Group of America, it's quite possible it could surprise on the upside. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Reinsurance Group of America shrunk earnings per share by 58% over the last year. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 5.4%.

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

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

While growth expenditure doesn't always pay off, the point is that it is a good option to have; but one that the P/E ratio ignores.

Is Debt Impacting Reinsurance Group of America's P/E?

Reinsurance Group of America has net debt worth 12% of its market capitalization. It would probably deserve a higher P/E ratio if it was net cash, since it would have more options for growth.

The Verdict On Reinsurance Group of America's P/E Ratio

Reinsurance Group of America trades on a P/E ratio of 13.8, which is below the US market average of 18.4. With only modest debt, it's likely the lack of EPS growth at least partially explains the pessimism implied by the P/E ratio.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. 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.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.