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What is the Price-to-Earnings Ratio?

Investors use the Price-to-Earning (P/E) ratio to measure the relationship of a company’s stock to its earnings per share of stock issued. Otherwise known as price multiple or the earnings multiple, P/E ratio enables investors to compare the company’s valuation to its peer group.

Investors use the P/E ratio to compare the performance of two companies or industries and to see which sectors are over or underpriced. The P/E ratio provides an insight into the potential growth and returns of a company’s stock, and indicates how much investors are prepared to pay for every dollar of earnings.

Besides showing if a company’s stock is under or overvalued, the P/E ratio also allows you to compare a stock’s valuation to a benchmark such as the S&P 500 index.

Price-to-Earnings Ratio

To calculate the P/E ratio, divide the company’s stock price by its earnings per share (EPS) (usually the market uses diluted earnings per share).

P/E ratio = Stock price / EPS

The Accountant Online

Company A and B reported the following at year-end December 31, 2019:

Company A Company B
Closing stock price $80 $70
Profit for the year $12 billion $12 billion
Diluted no. of shares outstanding 2 billion 3 billion

Company A Calculation:

Diluted EPS = $12 billion / 2 billion

= $6

P/E ratio = $80 / $6

= 13.3

Company B Calculation:

Diluted EPS = $12 billion / 3 billion

= $4 billion

P/E ratio = $70 billion / $4 billion

= 17.5

Points to Note

  • According to the calculations, Company B has a higher rating since the share price represents a higher multiple of earnings per share.
  • Some of the possible reasons for Company B having a higher rating are better growth prospects for earnings per share, higher quality earnings, possible undervalue of shares and recovery prospects, and a higher return on internal investments.

Analyzing the P/E Ratio

Investors will be willing to pay higher prices relative to profits for a number of different reasons:

  • If they perceive that a company’s profits are more secure.
  • Market position in the market relative to competitors.
  • Management record.
  • Higher future growth rates.
  • Higher return on invested capital.

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