A company's price/earnings (P/E) ratio can be calculated by dividing the current market price of a share by the earnings per share (EPS). A high P/E ratio means the company is highly-rated by the stock market, suggesting that investors think its prospects are good.
More extensive explanations of these terms are provided by a number of books in our collection, including The Financial Times Guide to Investing and The Financial Times Guide to Using the Financial Pages.
An explanation of the use of P/E ratios from a valuation perspective can be found in Determining Value and Valuation of Unquoted Companies.
General sources for current and historical P/E ratios
London Stock Exchange
The Financial Times publishes P/E ratios for companies and industry sectors in its 'Companies and Markets' section.
The ICAEW Library aims to keep the last 6 months' worth of market data pages from the FT, and the Guildhall Library in London holds the FT from 1888 onwards in various formats. Some other public libraries also hold copies of the FT, with varying temporal coverage.
The online FT Data Archive (subscription required) provides scans of the relevant tables, going back five years. To view these, click on the funnel to the right of the 'Browse reports' heading. This will reveal options to filter the reports by category and specify a date range. Choose the option to filter reports by the category of 'Popular print', then choose either 'London share service pages', 'World Markets at a glance', or 'FT500, Fixed incomes, Commodities, Interest rates'. Select a report from the list to download it in PDF format.
Risk Measurement Service
The Risk Measurement Service is a quarterly publication from London Business School. It provides data on the yield and earnings multiple (including the net yield and P/E ratio) for 3,000 UK shares, including every UK stock with a full listing on the London Stock Exchange and all AIM listed stocks. The listings of companies are arranged alphabetically and by sector, with tables for the highest and lowest P/E ratios.
The Library & Information Service holds the Risk Measurement Service from 2008 onwards.
Price Earnings Ratio Database (PERDa)
The PERDa database, focusing on deals in the SME market, was created using data on completed private company sales and acquisitions across the UK and Europe supplied by the accountants working on those transactions.
Data is no longer being collected for PERDa but an archive of the newsletters published between 2015 and 2019 is still available. These summarise and provide commentary on the data from the PERDa database, including quarterly movements in the average P/E ratio. The charts in the newsletters show price multiples from 2008 to 2019.
P/E ratios on 31st March 1982
Valuation of Unquoted Companies includes an appendix with 31 March 1982 valuations, providing P/E ratios for individual companies and sectors.
The relevant tables are:
- F:1 – FT Actuaries Share Indices as at 31 March 1982.
- F:3 – Selected investment statistics (including fully taxed P/E ratios) for constituents of the FT-Actuaries All-Share Index as at 31 March 1982.
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