Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

P/E ratio definition

What is the price-to-earnings ratio?

The price-to-earnings ratio, or P/E ratio for short, is a method of measuring a company’s value. The P/E ratio is calculated by dividing the company’s market value per share by the earnings per share (EPS).

A high P/E ratio suggests that investors expect a high level of earnings in the future, and that growth will be strong. A low P/E ratio could mean that the company is undervalued or current earnings are exceeding past trends.

Why do investors calculate the P/E ratio of a company?

Investors calculate the P/E ratio of a company so that they can compare the value of one stock in a sector with another. The price-to-earnings ratio can also be used as a guide to determine whether a company is currently over- or undervalued compared with its historical averages.

Sometimes, traders and investors will also calculate a trailing P/E ratio using an average of the past four quarters’ earnings to look at historical performance, or a forward P/E ratio using average analysts’ earnings expectations for the following four quarters.

Pros and cons of using the price-to-earnings ratio

Pros of using the P/E ratio

By measuring a company’s price to earnings, investors can determine whether shares are over- or undervalued, and decide which stocks to buy. For the company itself, the P/E ratio is a useful indicator of how much confidence investors have in the business.

Cons of using the P/E ratio

Using the P/E ratio as a measure of a company’s stock value has its limitations and should not be used as a single indicator of a company’s value. A price-to-earnings ratio doesn’t mean much until you compare it to the rest of the stocks in the same sector, or other companies listed on the same index.

Example of the P/E ratio

Let’s say you’re interested in buying shares of company ABC, which are currently trading at $100 per share. If the company currently has earnings per share of $8, this would give a P/E ratio of 12.5 ($100/$8). So, you’d have to invest $12.5 for every $1 In profit.

Build your trading knowledge

Discover how to trade with IG Academy, using our series of interactive courses, webinars and seminars.

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - Y

See all glossary trading terms

Help and support

Get answers about your account or our services.

Get answers

Interested in opening an account with us? Call 0800 195 3100 or send an email to newaccountenquiries.uk@ig.com.

We’re available from 8am to 6pm (UK time), Monday to Friday

Want to check on your application’s progress? Email us at newaccounts.uk@ig.com.