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Finance Dictionary and Glossary of Investment Terms
price to earnings ratio
The most common measure of how expensive a stock is. The P/E ratio is equal to a stock's market capitalization divided by its after-tax earnings over a 12-month period, usually the trailing period but occasionally the current or forward period. The value is the same whether the calculation is done for the whole company or on a per-share basis. The higher the P/E ratio, the more the market is willing to pay for each dollar of annual earnings. The last year's price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio) would be actual, while current year and forward year price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio) would be estimates, but in each case, the "P" in the equation is the current price. Companies that are not currently profitable (that is, ones which have negative earnings) don't have a P/E ratio at all. also called earnings multiple or (P/E ratio).