**Earnings Per Share (EPS).**You've heard the term many times, but do you really know what it means. EPS is the total net income of the company divided by the number of shares outstanding. It sounds simple but unfortunately it gets quite a bit more complicated. Companies usually report many EPS numbers. They usually have a GAAP EPS number (which means that it is computed using all of mutually agreed upon accounting rules) and a Pro Forma EPS figure (which means that they have adjusted the income to exclude any one time items as well as some non-cash items like amortization of goodwill or stock option expenses).

**Price to Earnings (P/E).**Now that you have several EPS figures (historical and forecasts), you'll be able to look at the most common valuation technique used by analysts, the price to earnings ratio, or P/E. To compute this figure, take the stock price and divide it by the annual EPS figure. For example, if the stock is trading at $10 and the EPS is $0.50, the P/E is 20 times. To get a good feeling of what P/E multiple a stock trades at, be sure to look at the historical and forward ratios.

**Growth Rate.**Valuations rely very heavily on the expected growth rate of a company. For starters, you can look at the historical growth rate of both sales and income to get a feeling for what type of future growth that you can expect. However, companies are constantly changing, as well as the economy, so don't rely on historical growth rates to predict the future, but instead use them as a guideline for what future growth could look like if similar circumstances are encountered by the company.

**PEG Ratio.**This valuation technique has really become popular over the past decade or so. It is better than just looking at a P/E because it takes three factors into account; the price, earnings, and earnings growth rates. To compute the PEG ratio (a.k.a. Price Earnings to Growth ratio) divide the Forward P/E by the expected earnings growth rate (you can also use historical P/E and historical growth rate to see where it's traded in the past).

**Return on Invested Capital (ROIC).**This valuation technique measures how much money the company makes each year per dollar of invested capital. Invested Capital is the amount of money invested in the company by both stockholders and debtors. The ratio is expressed as a percent and you should look for a percent that approximates the level of growth that you expect. In it's simplest definition, this ratio measures the investment return that management is able to get for its capital. The higher the number, the better the return.

**Return on Assets (ROA).**Similar to ROIC, ROA, expressed as a percent, measures the company's ability to make money from its assets. To measure the ROA, take the pro forma net income divided by the total assets. However, because of very common irregularities in balance sheets (due to things like Goodwill, write-offs, discontinuations, etc.) this ratio is not always a good indicator of the company's potential. If the ratio is higher or lower than you expected, be sure to look closely at the assets to see what could be over or understating the figure.

**Price to Sales (P/S).**This figure is useful because it compares the current stock price to the annual sales. In other words, it tells you how much the stock costs per dollar of sales earned. To compute it, take the current stock price divided by the annual sales per share. The annual sales per share should be calculated by taking the net sales for the last four quarters divided by the fully diluted shares outstanding (both of these figures can be found by looking at the press releases or quarterly reports).

**Market Cap.**Market Cap, which is short for Market Capitalization, is the value of all of the company's stock. To measure it, multiply the current stock price by the fully diluted shares outstanding. Remember, the market cap is only the value of the stock. To get a more complete picture, you'll want to look at the Enterprise Value.

**Enterprise Value (EV).**Enterprise Value is equal to the total value of the company, as it is trading for on the stock market. To compute it, add the market cap (see above) and the total net debt of the company. The total net debt is equal to total long and short term debt plus accounts payable, minus accounts receivable, minus cash. The Enterprise Value is the best approximation of what a company is worth at any point in time because it takes into account the actual stock price instead of balance sheet prices. When analysts say that a company is a "billion dollar" company, they are often referring to it's total enterprise value. Enterprise Value fluctuates rapidly based on stock price changes.

**EV to Sales.**This ratio measures the total company value as compared to its annual sales. A high ratio means that the company's value is much more than its sales. To compute it, divide the EV by the net sales for the last four quarters. This ratio is especially useful when valuing companies that do not have earnings, or that are going through unusually rough times. For example, if a company is facing restructuring and it is currently losing money, then the P/E ratio would be irrelevant. However, by applying a EV to Sales ratio, you could compute what that company could trade for when it's restructuring is over and its earnings are back to normal.

**EBITDA.**EBITDA stands for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. It is one of the best measures of a company's cash flow and is used for valuing both public and private companies. To compute EBITDA, use a companies income statement, take the net income and then add back interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and any other non-cash or one-time charges. This leaves you with a number that approximates how much cash the company is producing. EBITDA is a very popular figure because it can easily be compared across companies, even if all of the companies are not profitable.

**EV to EBITDA.**This is perhaps one of the best measurements of whether or not a company is cheap or expensive. To compute, divide the EV by EBITDA (see above for calculations). The higher the number, the more expensive the company is. However, remember that more expensive companies are often valued higher because they are growing faster or because they are a higher quality company. With that said, the best way to use EV/EBITDA is to compare it to that of other similar companies.

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