# How To Calculate The Value Of A Stock

Warren Buffet loves to invest in companies whose stock he feels is at bargain prices. But what makes that stock a bargain? To determine that, an investor needs to know how to calculate the value a stock.

If the true value is higher than what the stock is currently trading at, than that stock is said to be undervalued and that stock would make a great buy (if current market conditions are favorable – go here to check the Major Trend).

Stock prices are driven by a companies earnings and the information impacting the prospects of a companies future earnings. It is the single most important factor when you calculate the value of a stock. I cannot stress this enough, determining what a stock should be trading at is completely dependent on a companies earnings and its ability to sustain or increase its earnings in the future.

Companies release earnings reports on a quarterly basis typically in January, April, July, and October. These reports provide essential information to calculate the value of a stock, and it is common to see major movements in a stock’s price immediately following an earnings release. Also at this time most companies will provide forward guidance indicating what the company expects to earn during the next quarter.

#### EARNINGS PER SHARE

Earnings Per Share =
(Net Income – Dividends on Preferred Stock) / Average Outstanding Shares

Several key statistics can be easily derived from a company’s earnings report, including a company’s net income and a company’s earnings per share. A company’s earnings per share is equal to the company’s net income over the total number of shares outstanding.

The PE ratio is a key metric, which indicates how much investors are willing to pay for a companies current earnings. At a basic level the higher the PE ratio is, the more expensive the stock is. However, stocks are not traded based on their current earnings, but based on their forecasted future earnings. In other words, a company’s worth is not equal to what it is making today, but what it is making tomorrow.

#### P/E RATIO

P/E Ratio = Current Stock Price / Annual Earnings Per Share

The P/E ratio (price-to-earnings ratio) commonly referred to as the multiple and is equal to the stock price over the company’s annual earnings per share.

Value stocks are simply stocks trading at low PE ratios. These stocks typically have much lower growth rates meaning that their earnings are expected to increase at a much slower rate, typically less then ten percent annually. It is important to note that value stocks have outperformed growth stocks over the last ten years.

#### F P/E RATIO

F P/E Ratio = Current Stock Price / Forecasted Annual Earnings Per Share

Conversely, the F P/E ratio (forward price-to-earnings ratio) refers to the current stock price over a company’s forecasted next year’s annual earnings per share.

Growth stocks trade at high PE ratios because they are trading entirely on future earnings and not on current earnings. These are companies whose earnings are expected to grow substantially in the future. Investors are willing to pay more for companies who can generate higher returns in the future. As growth stocks are very much driven towards future earnings, a growth company that reports lower then expected earnings may drop substantially on the news.

One of famed TV host, Jim Cramer’s rules, is to never buy a stock which trades above twice its growth rate. This means that if a company is only expected to grow at 10 percent and is trading at a multiple of 20 then he considers the stock expensive.

Stocks whose future earnings are increasing, meaning the companies earnings are expected to not only grow but also to continually grow faster, deserve a very high PE ratio. These are very risky stocks, but can provide huge returns if their growth rate continues to increase.

When valuing stocks it is important to remember not only current earnings but also future forecasted earnings. We want to acquire stocks that have low multiples compared to their future projected earnings. This means we want to always be on the look out for stocks, which have forward growth rates above their current multiples. Also it is important to keep up with the news, looking for things that may impact a company’s current or future earnings.

Now that you know how to calculate the value of a stock, click here to discover when to buy and sell a stock.