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Should You Be Tempted To Sell Brown & Brown Inc (NYSE:BRO) Because Of Its PE Ratio?

Joseph Holm

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.

Brown & Brown Inc (NYSE:BRO) trades with a trailing P/E of 20, which is higher than the industry average of 17.2. While this might not seem positive, 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 Brown & Brown

Demystifying the P/E ratio

NYSE:BRO PE PEG Gauge September 10th 18

P/E is often used for relative valuation since earnings power is a chief driver of investment value. 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 BRO

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

BRO Price-Earnings Ratio = $30.82 ÷ $1.544 = 20x

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 BRO, such as company lifetime and products sold. A quick method of creating a peer group is to use companies in the same industry, which is what I will do. BRO’s P/E of 20 is higher than its industry peers (17.2), which implies that each dollar of BRO’s earnings is being overvalued by investors. 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 BRO is a stronger business than the average comparable company.

Assumptions to watch out for

However, it is important to note that our examination of the stock is based on certain assumptions. Firstly, that our peer group contains companies that are similar to BRO. If this isn’t the case, the difference in P/E could be due to other factors. For example, if Brown & Brown Inc is growing faster than its peers, then it would deserve a higher P/E ratio. Of course, it is possible that the stocks we are comparing with BRO 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:

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 BRO. But keep in mind that the usefulness of relative valuation depends on whether you are comfortable with making the assumptions I mentioned 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 highly recommend you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for BRO’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for BRO’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has BRO 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 BRO’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.