Stock market

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The price-earnings ratio tells you a great deal about how investors view a stock. Investors will bid a stock price up to a higher multiple if a company's earnings are expected to grow rapidly in the future. The multiple may look too high in relation to current earnings, but not in relation to expected future earnings. On the other hand, if a company's future looks uninteresting, and earnings are not expected to grow substantially, the market price will decline to a point where the multiple is low.

Multiples also change with the broad cycles of the stock market, as investors become willing to pay more or less for certain values and potentials. Between 1966 and 1972, a period of enthusiasm and speculation, the average multiple was usually 15 or higher. In the late 1970s, when investors were generally cautious and skeptical, the average multiple was below 10. However, note that these figures refer to average multiples–whatever the average multiple is at any given time, the multiples on individual stocks will range above and below it.

Now we can return to the table. The P-E ratio for each stock is based on the latest price of the stock and on earnings for the latest reported 12 months. The multiples, as you can see, were 12 for Con Edison, 17 for GE, and 10 for Mobil. In January 1987, the average multiple for all stocks was very roughly around 15. Con Edison is viewed by investors as a relatively good-quality utility company, but one that by the nature if its business cannot grow much more rapidly that the economy as a whole. GE, on the other hand, is generally given a premium rating as a company that is expected to outpace the economy.

You can't buy a stock on the P-E ratio alone, but the ratio tells you much that is useful. For stocks where no P-E ratio is shown, it often means that the company showed a loss for the latest 12 months, and that no P-E ratio can be calculated. Somewhere near the main NYSE table, you'll find a few small tables that also relate to the day's NYSE-Composite trading. There's the table showing the 15 stocks that traded the greatest number of shares for the day (the "most active" list), a table of the stocks that showed the greatest percentage of gains or declines (low-priced stocks generally predominate here); and one showing stocks that made new price highs or lows relative to the latest 52 weeks.

You'll find a large table of "American Stock Exchange Composite Transactions", which does for stocks listed on the AMEX just what the NYSE-Composite table does for NYSE-listed stocks. There are smaller tables covering the Pacific Stock Exchange, Boston Exchange, and other regional exchanges.

The tables showing over-the-counter stock trading are generally divided into two or three sections. For the major over-the-counter stocks covered by the NASDAQ quotation and reporting system, actual sales for the day are reported and tabulated just as for stocks on the NYSE and AMEX. For less active over-the-counter stocks, the paper lists only "bid" and "asked" prices, as reported by dealers to the NASD.

It is worth becoming familiar with the daily table of prices of U.S. Treasury and agency securities. The Treasury issues are shown not only in terms of price, but in terms of the yield represented by the current price. This is the simplest way to get a bird's-eye view of the current interest rate situation—you can see at a glance the current rates on long-term Treasury bonds, intermediate-term notes, and short-term bills.

Реферат опубликован: 3/03/2010