Posts Tagged ‘P/E Ratio’



Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 


I’ll be frank – I have a special place in my heart for the PE ratio and it is the same place where all the things I hate are stored.  This simple to understand metric has, in my opinion, resulted in more misguided Wall Street thinking than just about any metric in existence.  A quick glance at the breakdown of the PE ratio shows serious flaws at work here.  It is basically a moving price target (which is never correct unless you still believe in EMH) divided by the earnings estimates that are created by analysts who have literally no idea where future earnings will be.  In other words, you might as well pick random numbers out of a hat and divide them and then go buy or sell stocks.  Naturally, proponents of the PE ratio will say that you shouldn’t use forward PE’s, but to those people I have to respond: do you always drive through your rear view mirror?  The numerator (or market price in the PE equation) could care less about past earnings so it’s less than helpful in telling us where future prices might go.

What disgusts me even more about this metric is its incessant use in selling buy and hold strategies.  You can’t read a book on value investing or buy and hold without running into the PE ratio.  “The market is cheap – stocks for the long-run!”  You’ve probably seen this slogan on every mutual fund pamphlet you’ve ever read.  Your stock broker no doubt thinks the market is “cheap” right now.  The PE ratio has become the sales pitch of an entire generation of sales people who are just herding small investors into fee based products.  “Did you know Warren Buffet is a value investor?”  “Just buy cheap stocks and hang on.  Your status on the list of the world’s richest is in the making!”  Or so goes the old sales pitch.

So, I wasn’t surprised to open Yahoo Finance this morning to see the following headline arguing that stocks are cheap according to the PE ratio.  But just two articles down is an article from the WSJ arguing that the PE ratio doesn’t work in this environment.  You can’t make this stuff up.  According to the article:

“Not only is the P/E

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P/E Ratio: Deflators and the LONG Term

P/E Ratio: Deflators and the LONG Term

Courtesy of Jake at Econompic Data 

Doug Kass via The Street (hat tip Abnormal Returns):

There exists numerous price/earning multiple deflators and non traditional headwinds to growth. These factors don’t necessarily prevent an extended bull market, but they will most certainly deflate price/earnings multiples and put a cap on the market’s upside potential:

  • rising taxes
  • fiscal imbalances in federal, state and local governments;
  • the absence of drivers to replace the prior cycle’s strength in residential and nonresidential construction
  • the long tail of the last credit cycle (Greece, Portugal, Spain, etc.)
  • inept and partisan politics

Lets take this concept and look at how it fits in over the LONG term (i.e. based on history, do we seem extended). The chart below shows the CAPE (Professor Shiller’s Cyclically Adjusted Price / Earnings Ratio), as well as the twenty year average of the same going back 100 years to 1910 (actually, the 20 year average data goes all the way back to 1890).

historical p/e ratios

Note that in previous cycles we have seen the CAPE move well below 10 at the low, whereas this cycle "only" hit a low of 13 in March ’09. Interestingly enough, that 13 CAPE ratio is higher than each of the three 20 year average lows, seen at each low point throughout the last century. 


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Analyzing Corporate Margins As S&P500 Free Cash Flows Hits Record

Pragcap examined the same phenomenon this morning from a different perspective, that of earnings season surprises. – Ilene 

Analyzing Corporate Margins As S&P500 Free Cash Flows Hits Record 

Courtesy of Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge 

In the recent multiple expansion run up, one of the largely ignored factors has been the dramatic rise in corporate margins, be they Gross Profit, EBITDA, Net Income or unlevered Free Cash Flow. Of course, all this has been a function of massive cuts in corporate overhead as most companies have laid off the bulk of their workers, resulting in a seemingly stronger bottom line. In the meantime, assorted stimulus programs by the government have prevented revenues from crashing, thus boosting EPS, on both a historical and a projected basis.

We demonstrate the dramatic surge in margins by scouring through the S&P 500 companies over the past 3 years, and question just how sustainable this margin pick up is. As more and more analysts predict that future margin expansion is sure to drive the market higher, we can’t help but wonder 1) with stimulus benefits expiring and excess liquidity approaching an inflection point (especially in China) who will keep the top line strong, 2) as companies are forced, as a result, to hire more workers in order to drive sales, how will operating margins maintain their stellar performance, and 3) how will a decline in margins be justified from a multiple expansion standpoint. Lastly, we parse through the thoughts of William Hester of Hussman funds, who has some very critical observations on this very relevant topic.

As the chart below demonstrates, virtually every margin metric is now trading at or above its 3 year average.

One notable observation is the unlevered Free Cash Flow margin, which at 12.6% is now at a recent record. We have preciously discussed how companies have extracted major cash concession by squeezing net working capital, which is likely a factor in the disproportionate rise in FCF margins relative to all other metrics. The immediate result of this cash conservation has been of course the dramatic increase in corporate cash balances, which some have speculated is merely in anticipation of much higher corporate tax rates down the line, as well as general austerity as the reality of America’s insolvency trickes down to individual corporations.

The take home here is that margins have likely little room left to grow. This is especially true…
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Pragcap shares a tool he uses to answer the question, 


Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist

Maria Shriver's 2008 Women's Conference

I’ve long argued that most valuation metrics are fraught with pitfalls that the average investor too often falls for.  What is often described as “value” is too often a bloated price divided by some analyst’s guesstimate.  The myth of “value” and the dream of becoming the next Warren Buffett (see the many myths of Warren Buffett here) has resulted in untold stock market losses over the decades and/or misconceptions of adding “value” to a portfolio that most likely doesn’t outperform a correlating index fund after taxes and fees. Nonetheless, the PE ratio and other faulty valuation metrics remain one of the primary sources of investment strategists, stock pickers and market researchers.

While I am no fan of valuation metrics, I do happen to be a student and believer of mean reversion.  In an effort to attach a “value” to this market I’ve used an old Jeremy Grantham tool to see where we are today.  Grantham is a big believer in the cycle of corporate profits and specifically profit margins.  As regular readers know, one of the primary reasons why we have been bullish ahead of the past 5 earnings seasons was due to the expansion in corporate margins and very low analyst expectations.  Analysts became extremely negative in Q4 2008 and severely underestimated the pace at which companies were able to cut costs and support the bottom line.  This stabilization in corporate margins set the table for the massive rally in stocks as profits continued to expand at a far faster pace than anyone expected.

Corporate margins are extremely cyclical.  As companies expand their businesses and revenues grow they are able to better manage their costs, hire personnel, etc.  But if the economy weakens for any number of reasons revenues will contract, costs will remain high and margins will ultimately contract.  Businesses are then forced to cut costs in order to salvage profits.  In other words, margins are constantly expanding and contracting with the business cycle around the mean.

Over the last 50 years corporate profit margins (corporate profits/GDP) have averaged 9.5%.  If we multiply GDP by the average margin growth we can create a long-term trend of what corporate profits should look like.  We can then compare actual corporate profits to this result in an effort to see whether…
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Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist

Rosey was really on point yesterday with these excellent thoughts:

We realize that the nerdy economics term of “The Great Recession” has already been coined, but let’s face facts — this was not a recession, nor was it great. It was not the Great Depression, either, but it was (is, in fact) a depression. So let’s call it the “Not So Great Depression”.

Now what makes a depression different than a recession is that depressions follow a period of wild credit excess, and when the bubble bursts and the wheels begin to move in reverse, we are in a depression. A recession is a correction in real GDP in the context of a secular expansion, which is what all prior nine of them were, back to 1945. But this was not a mere blip in real GDP — it is a post-bubble credit collapse. This is not a garden-variety recession at all, which an economic downturn triggered by an inflation-fighting Fed and excessive manufacturing inventories. A depression is all about deflating asset values and contracting private sector credit. In a recession, monetary and fiscal policy works, even if the lags can be long. In a depression, they do not work. And this is what we see today.

The stock market typically rolls over shortly after the last Fed rate hike at any given cycle. That didn’t happen this time. The Fed last hiked rates in the summer of 2006 and yet the stock market didn’t peak until after the first rate CUT … that does not happen in a normal cycle.

Even with a 0% funds rate, the economy could still not turn around, and that is exactly what happened in the 1930s in the U.S. and in the 1990s in Japan. When the central bank takes rates to zero and that does not do the trick in helping the economy or the markets find the bottom, and then has to engage in an array of experimental strategies and radically expand its balance sheet, then you know you are in a depression.

Moreover, when, a year after the onset of quantitative easing, we see money velocity and the money multipliers still in decline, then you also know that the liquidity is not being re-circulated in the real economy but perhaps finding

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Make Sure You Get This One Right

Make Sure You Get This One Right

Courtesy of John Mauldin, Outside the Box at Investors Insight

There are those who sweat over every decision, worrying about how it will affect their lives and investments. Then there is the school of thought that we should focus on the big decisions. I am of the latter school.

85% of investment returns are a result of asset class allocations and only 15% come from actually picking investment within the asset class. Getting the big picture right is critical. In this week’s Outside the Box we look at a very well written essay about the biggest of all question in front of us today. Do we face deflation or inflation?

This OTB is by my good friends and business partners in London, Niels Jensen and his team at Absolute Return Partners. I have worked closely with Niels for years and have found him to be one of the more savvy observers of the markets I know. You can see more of his work at and contact them at

John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box

Make Sure You Get This One Right

By Niels C. Jensen

"You can’t beat deflation in a credit-based system."

Robert Prechter

Paul VolckerAs investors we are faced with the consequences of our decisions every single day; however, as my old mentor at Goldman Sachs frequently reminded me, in your life time, you won’t have to get more than a handful of key decisions correct – everything else is just noise. One of those defining moments came about in August 1979 when inflation was out of control and global stock markets were being punished. Paul Volcker was handed the keys to the executive office at the Fed. The rest is history.

Now, fast forward to July 2009 and we (and that includes you, dear reader!) are faced with another one of those ‘make or break’ decisions which will effectively determine returns over the next many years. The question is a very simple one:

Are we facing a deflationary spiral or will the monetary and fiscal stimulus ultimately create (hyper) inflation?

Unfortunately, the answer is less straightforward. There is no question that, in a cash based economy, printing money (or ‘quantitative easing’ as it is named these days) is inflationary. But what actually happens when credit is destroyed at a…
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Phil's Favorites

The existential case for ditching Alexa and other AI


The existential case for ditching Alexa and other AI

Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Courtesy of Brendan Canavan, University of Huddersfield

Alexa’s creepy laugh is far from the most worrying thing about her. This is despite the fact that Amazon’s digital assistant – which allows users to access the internet and control personal organisation tools simply by speaking to the device – has been reported to spontaneously chuckle to herself. We shouldn’t be too concerned about he...

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Zero Hedge

Trader Shares "A Few Ideas For Avoiding A Friday Faceplant"

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

From Bloomberg macro commentator, Richard Breslow

Don’t mistake this as a trade recommendation, but it is all right to do nothing. Trading when you believe you have an edge is when it is time to step in. If you are there, then go for it. But trading merely because things are moving around is a day-trading concept, not an investment thesis.

It’s important to match trading style, objectives and realistic liquidity assumptions to how you view volatility vs risk. They are very much not the same thing. Made even more so if you think the Fed equity put has been eliminated. It hasn&#...

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Insider Scoop

41 Biggest Movers From Yesterday

Courtesy of Benzinga.

  • Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NASDAQ: OMEX) shares climbed 118.42 percent to close at $8.30 on Thursday after the company disclosed positive Mexico Court Decision nullifying a previous denial of application for Don Diego project.
  • Omeros Corporation (NASDAQ: OMER) shares gained 35.31 percent to close at $15.75. The maker of a cataract surgery drug called Omidria realized a "big win" from Wednesday's release of the U.S. government spending bill, according to Stat News. Specifically, a policy included in the spending bill includes a pass-through exte... more from Insider

Chart School

Bitcoin Cycles Review

Courtesy of Read the Ticker. uses Bartel's logic to find dominant cycles in a time series.

Cycles are present in markets, as shown below the 22 and 40 day cycles on calendar days looks like the best fit. Therefore the chart below suggest we can expect a bitcoin low either now or in a few weeks.

Bitcoin has not been effected by the SP500/Dow sell off which is a very bullish sign, bitcoin may see safe haven money chasing price very soon, add to this the sister coin, litecoin, isgetting ready for wider use with the massive e-commerce payment market (litepay, litepal, atomic swamps, lightening network).

The bitcoin move is not over!


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U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Speaks With CNBC's "Power Lunch" Today

By VW Staff. Originally published at ValueWalk.

WHEN: Today, Thursday, March 22, 2018

WHERE: CNBC’s “Power Lunch”

Following is the unofficial transcript of a FIRST ON CNBC interview with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” (M-F 1PM – 3PM) today, Thursday, March 22nd. Following are links to video from the interview on

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Digital Currencies

Why accountants of the future will need to speak blockchain and cryptocurrency if they want your money


Why accountants of the future will need to speak blockchain and cryptocurrency if they want your money


Courtesy of Anwar Halari, The Open University

If you haven’t already heard of Bitcoin, you either haven’t been paying attention or you’re a time traveller who just touched down in 2018. Because by now, most of us will have heard of Bitcoin and some of us have even jumped on the bandwagon, investing in cryptocurrencies.

But despite its popularity, many people still don’t understand the technology that underlines it: blockchain. In...

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Members' Corner

Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 Election: What you need to know (updated)


"If you want to fundamentally reshape society, you first have to break it." ~ Christopher Wylie

[Interview: Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: 'We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles' – video]

"You’ve probably heard by now that Cambridge Analytica, which is backed by the borderline-psychotic Mercer family and was formerly chaired by Steve Bannon, had a decisive role in manipulating voters on a one-by-one basis – using their own personal data to push them toward voting ...

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How your brain is wired to just say 'yes' to opioids

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


How your brain is wired to just say ‘yes’ to opioids

A Philadelphia man, who struggles with opioid addiction, in 2017. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Courtesy of Paul R. Sanberg, University of South Florida and Samantha Portis, University of South Florida


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Mapping The Market

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

Via Jean-Luc

How propagandist beat science – they did it for the tobacco industry and now it's in favor of the energy companies:

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

The original tobacco strategy involved several lines of attack. One of these was to fund research that supported the industry and then publish only the results that fit the required narrative. “For instance, in 1954 the TIRC distributed a pamphlet entitled ‘A Scientific Perspective on the Cigarette Controversy’ to nearly 200,000 doctors, journalists, and policy-makers, in which they emphasized favorable research and questioned results supporting the contrary view,” say Weatherall and co, who call this approach biased production.

A second approach promoted independent research that happened to support ...

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Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...

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NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!


We have a great guest at today's webinar!

Bill Olsen from NewsWare will be giving us a fun and lively demonstration of the advantages that real-time news provides. NewsWare is a market intelligence tool for news. In today's data driven markets, it is truly beneficial to have a tool that delivers access to the professional sources where you can obtain the facts in real time.

Join our webinar, free, it's open to all. 

Just click here at 1 pm est and join in!

[For more information on NewsWare, click here. For a list of prices: NewsWar...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Brazil; Waterfall in prices starting? Impact U.S.?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Below looks at the Brazil ETF (EWZ) over the last decade. The rally over the past year has it facing a critical level, from a Power of the Pattern perspective.


EWZ is facing dual resistance at (1), while in a 9-year down trend of lower highs and lower lows. The counter trend rally over the past 17-months has it testing key falling resistance. Did the counter trend reflation rally just end at dual resistance???

If EWZ b...

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.

To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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