Course 301: Valuing Stocks
Relative Valuation
In this course
1 Introduction
2 What Is a Stock's Value?
3 Common Valuation Ratios
4 Relative Valuation
5 Absolute, or Intrinsic, Valuation

There are two basic methods of valuing stocks. The most frequently used method is relative valuation, which compares a stock's valuation with those of other stocks or with the company's own historical valuations. For example, if you were considering the relative valuation for Dow Chemical DOW, you would compare its stock's price/earnings ratio (or its price/sales ratio, etc.) with that of other chemicals makers or with that of the overall stock market. If Dow has a P/E ratio of 16 and the average for the industry is closer to, say, 25, Dow's shares are cheap on a relative basis. You could also compare Dow's P/E with the average P/E of an index, such as the S&P 500, to see whether Dow still looked cheap. (With the S&P 500's P/E in the low 30s at the end of 1999, Dow was cheap all right.) The problem with relative valuations is that not all companies are made alike--not even all chemicals makers. There could be very good reasons why Dow has a lower P/E than its average peer. Maybe the company doesn't have the growth prospects of other chemicals companies. Maybe the possible liability from breast-implant litigation rightly puts a damper on the stock's price. After all, a Hyundai has a lower sticker price than a Mercedes, but for very good reasons. The key is to research your stocks well and be aware of the factors that might justifiably make them cheaper or more expensive than similar stocks.

Next: Absolute, or Intrinsic, Valuation >>


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