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P/E is short for the ratio of a company's share price to its per-share earnings. As the name implies, to calculate the P/E, you simply take the current stock price of a company and divide by its earnings per share (EPS):
|P/E Ratio =||Market Value per Share|
|Earnings per Share (EPS)|
Most of the time, the P/E is calculated using EPS from the last four quarters. This is also known as the trailing P/E. However, occasionally the EPS figure comes from estimated earnings expected over the next four quarters. This is known as the leading or projected P/E. A third variation that is also sometimes seen uses the EPS of the past two quarters and estimates of the next two quarters.
|Watch: PE Ratio|
Companies that aren't profitable, and consequently have a negative EPS, pose a challenge when it comes to calculating their P/E. Opinions vary on how to deal with this. Some say there is a negative P/E, others give a P/E of 0, while most just say the P/E doesn't exist.
Historically, the average P/E ratio in the market has been around 15-25. This fluctuates significantly depending on economic conditions. The P/E can also vary widely between different companies and industries.
Next: P/E Ratio: Using The P/E Ratio »
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