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Price to Earnings Ratio Calculation

When evaluating a stock, most investors refer to the Price to Earnings (P/E) ratio in order to make more reasonable investment decisions. It is the ratio most often used by investor when it comes to evaluating stocks. However, it should not be used in isolation, but instead be combined with other tools for stock evaluation.

As with other ratios, the P/E reflects a relationship between the price of the stock and the earnings of the company. Since, the P/E is commonly used, other stock analysis tools should not be overlooked.

Price to Earnings (P/E) Ratio Formula

The following formula should be implemented for the calculation of the P/E:

P/E = Share Price / EPS

Example: Company ABC has a price per share of $30. Its Earnings per Share (EPS) is 5. Therefore, company ABC's P/E will be 6, which is received by dividing $30 by 5.

What is the meaning behind P/E?

The amount you get for a company's P/E represents the money the market is willing to pay for the earnings the company makes. Logically, a higher P/E means that the market is ready to pay more for the earnings of the company. Another interpretation of the value of P/E may be that the market places high expectations regarding the performance of the stock. A high value of P/E is often times interpreted as the stock being overpriced.

On the other hand, if the value of the P/E is low many investors interpret it is lack of confidence in the future performance of the stock and the company respectively. Another interpretation is that the market has failed to value accurately the stock. Being overlooked by the market, many investors that are capable of finding such stocks make a real fortune by investing them at the right time before their potential is found by the other investors.

The Right P/E

The suitability of a P/E may depend on the willingness of investors to pay for the generated by the company earnings. So, the higher the investor is willing and able to pay, the higher the value of the P/E. This means that the investor has perceived some potential in the long-term growth and performance of the company. Additionally, the right level of P/E is highly subjective since it depends on the personal view of every investor.

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