**PE Ratio or Price Earning Ratio Multiple –** On 2nd Feb, Google passed Apple as the most valuable company – Google Market Capitalization surpassed Apple Market Cap. How did this happen? Let us closely look at their respective PE multiple, Google PE ratio is trading at **30.58x**, however, Apple Price Earning Ratio was at around **10.20x**.

source: ycharts

Despite of lower PE multiple of Apple, Apple stocks still have taken the beating. Apple returned -25.8% (negative) in the past 1 year, however, Google Returned approx. 30% (positive) in the corresponding period.

source: ycharts

A couple of quick questions on this for you?

- Is Apple a BUY?
- Is Google a SELL?
**Is Apple now cheaper than Google?**- Which PE are we talking about – Forward PE Ratio or Trailing PE Ratio?
- Why are Apple prices decreasing even though it has a lower PE Ratio?

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To understand the answer to all the questions above, it is important for us to understand the core and probably the most important valuation parameter i.e. PE multiple or Price Earning Ratio.

Also, checkout Why Price to Book Value is used for Bank Valuations

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This tutorial focus on the nuts and bolts of PE multiple and covers the following topics

- What is PE Ratio
- PE Ratio Calculations
- Trailing PE Ratio vs Forward PE Ratio
- How to PE for Valuations?
- Finding Target Price using PE Ratio
- Industry and Country Wise PE Multiples
- Rationale for using PE Ratio
- Limitations of PE Ratio

## What is PE Ratio?

This ratio is primarily derived from the Payback Multiple. Payback means how many years it will take to get your money back. Likewise, think of PE as how many years’ earnings it will take for an investor to recover the price paid for the share.

For example, if the PE multiple is 10x. This basically implies that for each $1 of earning, the investor has paid $10. Hence, it will take 10 years of earnings for the investor to recover the price paid.

**PE Ratio Formula = Price Per Share / Earnings Per**

## PE Ratio Calculation

Let us take a quick example of Colgate and calculate its PE multiple.

As of Feb 22, 2016, Colgate Price Per Share is $67.61

Colgate’s earnings per share (trailing twelve months) is 1.509

Price Earning Ratio or PE Ratio Formula = $67.61/1.509 = **44.8x**

Simple, as you saw that it is not at all difficult to calculate PE ratio 🙂

## Trailing vs Forward Price Earning Ratio

PE Ratio that we saw earlier were all Historical or Trailing Price Earning Ratios. In fact, there are two types of PE multiple– Trailing PE Ratio and Forward PE Ratio

**Trailing PE Ratio Formula (TTM or Trailing Twelve Months) = Price Per Share / EPS over the previous 12 months.**

PE Calculation of Colgate that we did was the Trailing PE Ratio.

Let us now look at what Forward PE Ratio Formula is –

**Forward PE Ratio Formula = Price Per Share / Forecasted EPS over the next 12 months**

As you can note from above, the key difference between the two is the forecasted EPS over the next 12 months.

Trailing PE Ratio use the Historical EPS, while Forward PE Ratio use the Forecast EPS.

Let us look at the above example to calculate the Trailing PE Ratio and Forward PE Ratio.

Company AAA, Trailing Twelve Months EPS is $10.0 and its Current Market Price is $234.

**Trailing Price Earning Ratio formula = $234 / $10 = $23.4x**

Likewise, let us calculate the Forward Price Earning Ratio of Company AAA. Company AAA 2016 estimated EPS is $11.0 and its current price is $234.

**Forward Price Earning Ratio formula = $234 / $11 = $21.3x**

Some of the things to consider regarding the Trailing Price Earning Ratio vs Forward Price Earning Ratio.

- If EPS is expected to grow then the Forward PE Ratio will be lower than the Historical or Trailing PE. From the above table, AAA and BBB show an increase in EPS and hence, their Forward PE Ratio is lower than the Trailing PE Ratio.
- On the other hand, if EPS is expected to decrease, then you will note that the Forward PE Ratio will be higher than the Trailing PE Ratio. This can be observed in Company DDD, whose Trailing PE Ratio was at 23.0x, however, Forward PE Ratio increased to 28.7x and 38.3x in 2016 and 2017, respectively,
- Please note that the Forward PE Ratio only factors forecast EPS (2016E, 2017E and so on), whereas the stock price will reflect earnings growth prospects far into the future.
- One should not only compare the Trailing PE Ratio for valuation comparison between the two companies but also look at the Forward PE Ratio to focus on Relative Value – whether the PE differences reflect company’s long-term growth prospects and financial stability.

#### A Quick Question on Trailing and Forward **Price Earning Ratio**

Rudy Comp reported $32million in earnings during FY2015. An analyst forecasts an EPS over the next twelve months of $1.2. Rudy has 25 million shares outstanding at a market price of $20/share. Calculate Rudy’s trailing and leading P/E ratio. If the 5 years historical average Price Earning Ratio is 15x, whether Rudy Comp is overvalued or undervalued?

**Answer –** Please drop your answers in the comment box.

Also, do checkout

## How to use PE Ratio for valuations

**Method #1 ****Compare Historical Price Earning Ratio of the Company **

Graphical Interpretation of PE Multiple is no rocket science. If you are wondering how to create this Price Earning Ratio graph, you can look at the Investment Banking Charts.

Price Earning Ratio chart helps the investors visualize the valuation multiple of Stock or Index over a period of time. For example, the below Price Earning Ratio graph of a company named Foodland Farsi is depicted over a period of March’02 until March’07.

The above graph compares the current PE multiple with the historical Price Earning Ratio Ratios. We note that the above graph denotes that stock is **overvalued as compared to historical PE multiple.**

Likewise, from the above Price Earning Ratio** Band Chart**, we note that the stock is trading at the Upper Price Earning Ratio Band of 20.2x implying higher valuations as compared to historical ratios.

You can prepare the same graphs for Price to Cash Flow Ratio, EV to EBIT ratio etc

## Method # 2 – Compare the Price Earning Ratio of the company with the other companies within the sector.

Let us look at the PE multiple of Colgate and its comparison with the Industry. What do you note?

Source – Reuters

We note that Colgate’s Price Earning Ratio is 44.55x, however, the Industry Price Earning Ratio is 61.99x. This implies that on one side Colgate is trading at approx. 44 times its earnings, the Industry is trading at approx. 62 times its earnings. This is a no-brainer; you would like to pay $44 per $ earnings for Colgate, rather than opting for $62 per $ earning for the Industry.

#### Method #3 – Interpretation using a Comparable Comp

The above table is nothing but a Comparable Comp. A comparable comp lists all relevant industry competitors, its financial forecasts and important valuation parameters. In this table, we have considered only PE Multiple (as this is a PE multiple discussion).

A couple of questions for you with respect to the comp table provided above –

- Which is the cheapest stock?
- Which one is the most expensive?

Hope you found the answers, guess should not be too difficult. Let us dive into the rational for the same.

##### Which is the cheapest stock?

- Average Trailing Price Earning Ratio is 19.2x. There is only one stock that is lower than this average Trailing Price Earning Ratio i.e. Company BBB
- Likewise if you look at the Average Forward PE Multiple, company BBB has lower Forward Price Earning Ratio that its respective averages
- Strictly from this Comp Table, we note that Company BBB is the cheapest Stock

##### Which is the Most Expensive Stock?

- There are 3 stocks whose Trailing PE Ratio is more than the Average Trailing PE Ratio. Company AAA, CCC and DDD
- Out of these 3, it is difficult to find the most expensive stock strictly on the basis of Trailing PE Ratio (all are closer to Trailing PE of 23x
- Let us now compare the Forward PE Ratio of these 3 stocks. We note that for 2016, Stock DDD has the highest Forward PE Ratio (28.7x in 2016E and 38.3x in 2017E)
- This implies that Stock DDD is the most expensive stock from the above table.

Though Price Earning Ratio formula is easy to calculate, one should keep in mind the following important points regarding the PE Multiple.

- The two companies may have different growth prospects
- The quality of earnings may differ – i.e. one company’s earnings may be more volatile than the other’s
- The balance sheet strength of the two companies may be different

A high PE Multiple is sometimes cited as a reason for not buying a stock. However, fast-growing companies are typically associated with high PEs. Obviously, investing in fast-growing companies can be profitable. Therefore a high PE multiple should not necessarily prevent investors investing in the stock.

## How to Find Target Price using Price Earning Ratio?

Not only it is important for us to understand whether the stock is a BUY or a SELL, it is equally important to understand the Target Price of the stock under consideration.

**What is Target Price?** – it is nothing but what you expect the stock price to be, say at the end of 2016 or 2017 etc.

Let us look at the following Company Example

Let us assume that **WallStreetMojo **is operating in Services Sector along with its peers – AAA, BBB, CCC, DDD, EEE, FFF, GGG, HHH.

In order to find the Target Price of **WallStreetMojo ****, **we should find the Average Trailing PE and the Forward PEs. We note that the Average Trailing PE Ratio is 56.5x and the Forward PE Ratios are 47.9x and 43.2x respectively.

**WallStreetMojo **‘s Target Price = EPS (**WallStreetMojo ****) x Forward PE Ratio**

Let us assume that **WallStreetMojo **** **2016E and 2017E EPS is** $4 and $5 respectively.**

Given the PE multiple formula above,

**WallStreetMojo ** 2016E Target price = $4 x 47.9 = $191.6

**WallStreetMojo ** 2016E Target price = $5 x 43.2 = $216

Theoretically the Target Prices look good. **Practically the Target Prices look all wrong!**

Why?

Target prices look all wrong due to the presence of outliers in the Comparable Table that we prepared. Please note that HHH has Price Earning Ratio closer to 200x. There could be various reasons of high Price Earning Ratio of HHH, however, we are here to find the appropriate target price for WallStreetMojo.

For finding the Correct Target Price, we need to remove outliers like HHH, revise the Comparable Table and find the new average PE multiple. Using these modified PE Multiples, we can re-calculate the Target Price.

Revised **WallStreetMojo ** 2016E Target price = $4 x 17.2 = $68.8

Revised **WallStreetMojo ** 2016E Target price = $5 x 18.2 = $91

## Industry and Country Price Earning Ratio

If you do not have access to paid databases like Bloomberg, Factset, Factiva, then you can look at some of the free resources for such data –

Additionally, if you want to look at the various PE Multiples of different countries, you can look at the following resources –

## Rationale for using Price Earning Ratio

- PE Multiple is the most commonly used equity multiple. Reason for this is its Data availability. You can easily find both the historical earnings as well as forecast earnings. Some of the websites that you can refer to find these are Yahoo Finance or Reuters
- If you compare this with the Discounted Cash Flow approach, this PE Multiple based valuation approach is not sensitive to assumptions. In DCF, change in WACC or growth rates assumptions can dramatically change the valuations.
- Can be used for comparison of companies within sectors and markets that have similar accounting policies.
- Efforts required is relatively less. A typical DCF model may take 10-15 days of analyst’s time. However, a comparable PE comp can be prepared in a matter of hours.

## Limitations of PE Multiple or Price Earning Ratio

- Balance Sheet Risk is not taken into account. This implies that the fundamental position of the company is not reflected correctly in PE Multiple. For example, Cash Ratio, Current Ratios and Acid Test Ratio etc are not taken into account
- Cash Flows are not taken into account. Cash Flows from operations, Cash Flow from investment and Cash Flow from financing are not reflected in this Price Earning Ratio.
- Different debt to equity structure can have a significant effect on the company’s earnings. Earnings can vary widely for companies that have debt due to a component of Interest Payments affecting the Earnings Per Share.
- Cannot be used when earnings are negative. For example, Box Inc. You cannot simply find PE Multiple for such unprofitable companies. One must use normalized earnings or forward multiples in such cases.
- Earnings are subject to different accounting policies. It can be easily manipulated by the management. Let us take a quick look at this example below.

Assume that there are two companies – company AA and BB. Think of these companies as identical twins (i know it is not possible for companies :-), but for a moment in a blue sky scenario let’s assume this is so). Identical sales, costs, clients and almost everything possible.

In such a case, you should not have any preference to buy a specific stock as the valuations of both the companies should be same.

Introducing slight twist now. Assuming that AA follows Straight Line Depreciation Policy and BB follows accelerated depreciation policy. This is the only change between the two companies. Straight line charges equal depreciation over the useful life. Accelerated Deprecation policy charges higher depreciation in initial years and lower depreciation in final years.

Let us see what happens to their valuations?

As noted above, the PE Multiple of AA is 22.9x while PE PE Multiple of BB is 38.1x. So which one will you buy. Given this information, we are inclined to favour AA as its PE muliple is lower. However, our very assumption that these two companies are identical twins and should command same valuations is challenged because we used PE Multiple. We can use other ratios like EV/EBITDA to solve such issues, however, we will come to that discussion in another post. For the moment, please note that PE ratios have some serious limitations in its universal application.

For the reason above, it is also recommended to use earnings as earnings before exceptional items.

## Conclusion

PE Ratios remain one of the widely used Valuation methodologies. On one side the Price Earning Ratio is very easy to calculate and understand, however, its application can be very complex and mostly tricky. Please be careful while considering Price Earning Ratio and do consider not only just the Trailing PE ratio but also the Forward PE Ratios to find the appropriate Target Price.

Hope you enjoyed this article. Good Luck!

Khalid says

Thanks for sharing. Very informative and useful.

Dheeraj Vaidya says

thanks Khalid. I am glad you found this useful.

Best,

Dheeraj

Diana says

Rudy Comp reported $32million in earnings during FY2015. An analyst forecasts an EPS over the next twelve month of $1.2. Rudy has 25 million shares outstanding at a market price of $20/share. Calculate Rudy’s trailing and leading P/E ratio. If the 5 year historical average PE is 15x, whether Rudy Comp is overvalued or undervalued?

Hi, can I know how as the analysts they decide on the company recommendation(Buy or Sell)? Lets say the above example historical average PE is 15x, PE forward is 16.67x. So if it is overvalued means analyst recommends for sell?

Dheeraj Vaidya says

Hey Diana, you interpretation is correct. We normally compare the forward PE with the historical PEs to check if it is more or less. As in the example here, Forward PE is more than the 5 year avg historical PE, hence it is a sell.

thanks,

Dheeraj

Elleshii says

yea, it is really useful. looking forward new articles.

Thank you so much.

Dheeraj Vaidya says

thank you Elleshii!

megha says

overvalued…

good content

Arinjay says

Thanks for valuable update, Dheeraj Sir !

Dheeraj Vaidya says

My pleasure Arinjay!

Brandon says

Hi Dheeraj,

Could you wright a topic about Special purpose vehicle/entity or off-balance sheet? Or a case study about Enron fraud.

Thank you so much

Brandon says

Sorry. I mean “write” not “wright” 🙂

Dheeraj Vaidya says

🙂

Dheeraj Vaidya says

Hey Brandon,

I am planning to write an article on Identifying the Shenanigans, which caters to what the management may do to make financials look rosy. In this one of the topic is related to off balance sheet items.

Will update you soon.

Thanks,

Dheeraj

Vivek Jain says

Great way to learn finance

Dheeraj Vaidya says

thanks Vivek! 🙂

Ankur Gupta says

Hi Dheeraj..

Hats off to your way of clarifying things..!!!!

Dheeraj says

Thanks Ankur! 🙂

Yashpal Setiya says

Dear Mr. Dheeraj

Your presentation and explanations are excellent and we look forward to receive your next

Dheeraj Vaidya says

thanks!

Dheeraj Vaidya says

thanks Yashpal!

Omkar says

I express my Gratitude and at the same time I also Appreciate your work for Sharing important information related to Finance, Investment Banking.

Your Financial Modelling Information is very Useful and BEST as compared to one which is taught in classes.

Thanks & Regards

Omkar

Dheeraj says

Hello Omkar,

I am glad you find the articles on wallstreetmojo interesting 🙂

Do let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks,

Dheeraj

Sadaf says

Very informative I will in sha Allah drop my answer by tomorrow.

Dheeraj says

Sure Sadaf. Thanks.

shrikant says

Hi Dhiraj,

Very very informative & explain in very simple manner. Any layman/investor who is having some knowledge of finance, can easily understand the concept .

Do post this type of educative info.

Regards,

shrikant

Dheeraj says

Thanks Shrikant, I am glad you like the PE Ratio post.

Best,

Dheeraj

BIBIN PAUL says

Dear sir.

Thanks for Your blog. appreciation for your aspiration of knowledge sharing.

Dheeraj says

Thanks Bibin.:-)

a says

is it 20/1,2 = 16,17x

Michael Iskiwitch says

2015 PE Trailing = 15.625

2016 PE Forward = 16.667

Company is overvalued

SELL – SELL – SELL – SELL – SELL – SELL –