How Come I See Different PE Ratios for the Same Stock?

When evaluating stocks, investors often look at the price-to-earnings (PE) ratio, a commonly used metric to assess a stock’s valuation. However, it can be confusing to see different PE ratios for the same stock depending on the source or methodology used. This variation occurs because there are multiple ways to calculate the PE ratio, each incorporating different aspects of a company’s earnings.

One of the most straightforward and widely used PE ratios is the trailing PE ratio, which uses the company’s earnings from the past four quarters (or trailing twelve months). This method is simple and relies on historical data, making it less speculative. However, it might not always provide an accurate picture of a company’s current performance if the company has experienced significant changes in recent quarters. For example, the Wall Street Journal often reports the trailing PE ratio, providing a consistent historical view of a company’s performance.

Another common method is the forward PE ratio, which uses projected earnings for the next four quarters. This approach can give investors insight into future growth potential, but it relies on analysts’ estimates, which may not always be accurate. Reuters and Zacks frequently provide forward PE ratios, emphasizing the future earnings potential based on analysts’ forecasts.

Adjusted PE ratios exclude extraordinary items, such as one-time write-offs, restructuring costs, or other non-recurring events that can distort earnings. By removing these irregular items, the adjusted PE ratio aims to present a clearer picture of the company’s core operating performance. For instance, First Call often provides adjusted PE ratios that exclude one-time charges, offering a normalized view of the company’s earnings.

The variability in PE ratios can also stem from differences in the data sources and methodologies used by various financial news outlets and analytical services. For instance, The New York Times might use the trailing PE ratio based on the latest available data from company reports, while Zacks could provide a blend of trailing and forward PE ratios, incorporating analyst revisions and estimates. First Call typically focuses on forward-looking metrics, emphasizing projected earnings and adjusted figures to account for extraordinary items.

Let’s consider a company with the following data: a current stock price of $100, trailing twelve months (TTM) earnings per share (EPS) of $5, projected EPS for the next year of $8, and a one-time write-off in the past year of $2 per share.

Using the trailing PE ratio calculation, the PE would be determined by dividing the stock price by the TTM EPS. In this case, PE = $100 / $5 = 20. For the forward PE ratio, the calculation would be PE = $100 / $8 = 12.5. If using the adjusted PE ratio, the TTM EPS would be adjusted by adding back the write-off, resulting in an adjusted TTM EPS of $7. The adjusted PE would then be PE = $100 / $7 = 14.3.

As seen in the examples, the PE ratio can vary significantly depending on whether historical, adjusted, or projected earnings are used. This variation highlights the importance of understanding the context and methodology behind the PE ratio reported by different sources.

Different PE ratios for the same stock arise due to the use of trailing earnings, forward projections, or adjusted earnings that exclude extraordinary events. Investors should be aware of these differences and consider multiple PE ratios when evaluating a stock to gain a comprehensive understanding of its valuation. Consulting reliable financial sources and understanding their methodologies can help make more informed investment decisions. For personalized guidance, consider consulting a Fee-Only financial adviser who can provide tailored advice based on your individual financial situation and goals.

About this Article

This article was published and distributed by a trusted source of independent ideas. It should be viewed as general and educational information and not as financial, tax or legal advice. Individuals seeking advice tailored to their specific situation are encouraged to schedule a free consultation with a professional listed in the directory. Both and are owned and operated by The Independent Adviser Corporation. For additional information, please refer to their Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, Legal Notices, and Disclaimer.

Read more Articles

About Us

Founded in 1998, The Independent Adviser Corporation has assisted thousands of individuals, families, and businesses. We are 100% independent and 100% objective. We offer FREE educational resources and investment ideas, and when financial, tax or legal advice is needed, we connect individuals with Fee-Only professionals. Don’t wait any longer. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, please visit 1800ADVISER.COM.