The Price Earnings Ratio (P/E Ratio) is the relationship between a company’s stock price and earnings per share (EPS). It is a popular ratio that gives investors a better sense of the value of the company. The P/E ratio shows the expectations of the market and is the price you must pay per unit of current earnings (or future earnings, as the case may be).
Earnings are important when valuing a company’s stock because investors want to know how profitable a company is and how profitable it will be in the future. Furthermore, if the company doesn’t grow and the current level of earnings remains constant, the P/E can be interpreted as the number of years it will take for the company to pay back the amount paid for each share.
P/E Ratio in Use
Looking at the P/E of a stock tells you very little about it, if it’s not compared to the company’s historical P/E or the competitor’s P/E from the same industry. It’s not easy to conclude whether a stock with a P/E of 10x is a bargain, or a P/E of 50x is expensive without performing any comparisons.
The beauty of the P/E ratio is that it standardizes stocks of different prices and earnings levels.
The P/E is also called an earnings multiple. There are two types of P/E: trailing and forward. The former is based on previous periods of earnings per share, while a leading or forward P/E ratio is when EPS calculations are based on future estimates, which predicted numbers (often provided by management or equity research analysts).
Price Earnings Ratio Formula
P/E = Stock Price Per Share / Earnings Per Share
P/E = Market Capitalization / Total Net Earnings
Justified P/E = Dividend Payout Ratio / R – G
R = Required Rate of Return
G = Sustainable Growth Rate