How is a stock valued?
Endowus Insights
Join our in-person China & HK Market Outlook event with Abrdn, Allianz Global Investors, and JPMAM. RSVP here

How is a stock valued?

25 Apr
25 Apr

The financial sector is one of the most important sectors in Hong Kong. Everyday, there are thousands of financial analysts looking at valuing stocks and investments to determine the right price of these securities. You might wonder, how exactly are they valued and what are all these ratios — P/E, P/B, trailing 12 months, that you always see on the news and hear on the radio mean? 

What are financial ratios and what do they mean?

Financial ratios are useful metrics for analysing a stock investment. They give investors an indication of a company’s financial performance relative to the overall market, and can be calculated using data extracted from financial statements. 

However, no single ratio alone should be used to value a stock.

Investors usually analyse different ratios to form a more holistic picture of a company's financial health and investment viability.

The Price-to-Earnings (P/E) ratio and the Price-to-Book (P/B) ratio are two commonly used financial ratios for stock valuation.

The P/E ratio is derived from dividing a company’s current stock price by its earnings per share (EPS). It’s a measure of how much investors are paying for every $1 of a company’s earnings.

In essence, it tells us how the public feels about a company (its stock price) and how well the company is actually doing (its EPS).

A high P/E ratio could mean that either investors expect future earnings to grow and are willing to pay a premium for the stock (e.g. technology companies), or the stock is overvalued. A low P/E ratio could suggest limited growth potential (e.g. utility companies) or that the stock is undervalued.

The P/B ratio is derived from dividing a company’s stock price by its book value (i.e. assets minus liabilities on the balance sheet). In other words, if the company liquidated all its assets and paid off all its debt, the value remaining would be its book value.

A P/B ratio of 1 means that the stock price is trading at fair value, in line with the book value of the company.

P/B is useful mostly for evaluating businesses with tangible assets, such as banks, transportation companies, or manufacturers.

Using these ratios to compare a stock’s performance across peers, time

In general, such financial ratios can vary significantly across sectors and over time, which is why you would want to compare them with the company’s industry averages, as well as their historical and future expected ratios to form a basis of evaluation. 

For a time comparison, analysts look at both the trailing and forward ratios. The trailing ratio is calculated based on the earnings per share in the last 12 months — this is the industry standard for calculating P/E ratios. The forward ratio is based on projections of the company’s earnings over the next 12 months.

As an example, Amazon’s trailing 12-month P/E ratio was 43.74, whereas the average for the internet commerce industry stood at 25.24. This signals that Amazon’s stock could be overvalued when benchmarked against companies that the analysts considered to be similar. 

In terms of future expectations of stock performance, Amazon’s forward P/E ratio was 211.63, far higher than its trailing 12-month P/E. This was largely due to the recent earnings underperformance in Q1 2022, which led analysts to reduce the expected earnings per share, which forms the denominator in the P/E ratio. This reflected those analysts’ bearish views on the stock at the time of writing, which might lead to an investor either choosing not to invest in Amazon or selling the stock.

Owning a stock portfolio Data spanning numerous decades has shown that across different asset classes (including stocks, bonds, and commodities), stocks have consistently posted superior returns, however that also comes with high volatilities. 

Based on calculations by Vanguard — the historical average annual return for a 100% stock portfolio from 1926-2021 was 12.3%  vs 6.3% for a 100% bond portfolio. However, in its worst year (1931), the stocks portfolio returned -43.1%,  while the bond portfolio’s worst performing year (1969) during the period returned -8.1%.

High risk comes with high rewards. For moderate-risk investors, who find the large fluctuations and volatilities in owning a 100% equities portfolio not something they could weather. Learn why a balanced portfolio such as the  classic 60/40 portfolio might be a good idea to consider.

To get started with Endowus, click here.


Risk Warnings

Investment involves risk. Past performance is not an indicator nor a guarantee of future performance. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up, and you may not get the full amount you invested. 


Whilst Endowus HK Limited (“Endowus”) has tried to provide accurate and timely information, there may be inadvertent delays, omissions, technical or factual inaccuracies or typographical errors.

Any forward-looking statements, prediction, projection or forecast on the economy, stock market, bond market or economic trends of the markets contained in this material are subject to market influences and contingent upon matters outside the control of Endowus and therefore may not be realised in the future. Further, any opinion or estimate is made on a general basis and subject to change without notice. In presenting the information above, none of Endowus, its affiliates, directors, employees, representatives or agents have given any consideration to, nor have made any investigation of the objective, financial situation or particular need of any user, reader, any specific person or group of persons. Therefore, no representation is made as to the completeness and adequacy of the information to make an informed decision. You should carefully consider (i) whether any investment views and products/ services are appropriate in view of your investment experience, objectives, financial resources and relevant circumstances.

No invitation or solicitation

Neither the information, nor any opinion, contained in this article constitutes a promotion, recommendation, solicitation, invitation or offer by Endowus or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities, collective investment schemes or other financial instruments or services, nor shall any such security, collective investment scheme, or other financial instruments or services be offered or sold to any person in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, purchase, or sale would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. This is not intended to be an invitation or offer made to the public to subscribe for any financial product or other transaction.

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Securities and Futures Commission or any regulatory authority in Hong Kong.

More on this Tag
No items found.
All you need to know about personal finance and investing
Please wait while we are submitting your email...
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
invalid email address

Table of Content