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Forward Price-to-Earnings (P/E): What It Is, What It Tells You

File Photo: Forward Price-to-Earnings (P/E): What It Is, What It Tells You
File Photo: Forward Price-to-Earnings (P/E): What It Is, What It Tells You File Photo: Forward Price-to-Earnings (P/E): What It Is, What It Tells You

What Is Forward Price-to-Earnings (Forward P/E)?

Forward price-to-earnings (forward P/E) considers expected earnings in the computation of the P/E ratio. This formula uses predicted payments, less trustworthy than current or historical earnings data, although estimated P/E analysis has benefits.

Knowing Forward P/E

In the method below, expected earnings are usually for the next 12 months or full-year fiscal (FY). Compare the future and trailing P/E ratios.

Forward P/E = Current Share PriceCurrent Share Price / Estimated Future Earnings per Share​

Say a corporation has a $50 share price and $5 EPS this year. Analysts predict 10% profit growth in the upcoming fiscal year. The company’s P/E is $50/5 = 10x.

Forward P/E = $50 / (5 x 1.10) = 9.1x.The forward P/E is lower than the current P/E since it accounts for future profit growth compared to the current share price.

What does Forward P/E show?

Analysts view the P/E ratio as an earnings price tag. It calculates a company’s relative worth based on its earnings. In principle, $1 of earnings at business A equals $1 at company B. This implies that both firms should trade at the same price, although this seldom happens.

If Business B trades for $10 and Company A for $5, the market appreciates Company B’s earnings. Different explanations exist for why firm B is worth more. It may indicate overpriced B-company earnings. It may also mean that Tight B’s profits are more valuable owing to more robust management and business plans.

Analysts calculate trailing P/E ratios by comparing current prices to earnings from the last year or fiscal year. However, both are based on past pricing. Earnings forecasts help analysts identify the company’s worth at future earnings levels. Forward P/E predicts earnings value.

Using the present price of $10 for business B and expected profits of $2 next year, the future P/E ratio is 5x, or half the firm’s value, when earnings were $1. Analysts estimate profits will rise if the forecast P/E ratio is lower than the present one. Experts predict earnings to fall if the projected P/E is higher than the present one.

P/E forward vs. trailing

Forward P/E forecasts EPS. Trailing P/E measures previous performance by dividing the current share price by the 12-month total EPS earnings. The most common P/E indicator follows P/E since it’s objective—assuming the firm reported earnings correctly. Some investors choose trailing P/E to avoid relying on others’ earnings projections.

Trailing P/E has drawbacks—past performance can not predict future behavior. Investors should prioritize future earnings power above historical performance. The fact that EPS remains constant while stock prices change is another issue. The trailing P/E will not reflect massive stock price fluctuations caused by corporate events.

Limits of Forward P/E

Forward P/E is susceptible to analyst bias and misinterpretation since it estimates future earnings. The future P/E has other flaws. Companies may understate results to surpass the consensus estimate of P/E in the next quarter.

Some corporations may exaggerate their estimate and alter it in their following earnings report. External analysts may also make estimates that differ from business projections, causing misunderstandings.

If your investing thesis relies on forward P/E, properly analyze the company. If the firm changes its guidance, the future P/E may change your mind. For a more reliable value, consider both forward and trailing P/E.

Excel Forward P/E Calculation

MS Excel can compute a company’s next fiscal year’s forward P/E. This calculation divides a company’s market price per share by its predicted profits per share to get its future P/E. Right-click on columns A, B, and C in Microsoft Excel and left-click “Column Width” to set it to 30.

Compare the forward P/E ratios of two businesses in the same sector. Enter the first and second companies’ names into cells B1 and C1. Then:

  • Enter “market price per share” in box A2 and the firms’ market prices in cells B2 and C2.
  • Fenter “forward earnings per share” in cell A3 and the projected EPS for the following fiscal year in cells B3 and C3.

Enter “forward price to earnings ratio” in cell A4.

Consider business ABC, trading at $50 with a projected EPS of $2.60. In cell B1, type “Company ABC.” Put “=50” in cell B2 and “=2.6” in cell B3. Enter “=B2/B3” into cell B4. Company ABC’s forward P/E is 19.23.

In contrast, DEF has a $30 market value per share and a projected EPS of $1.80. In column C1, type “Company DEF.” Put “=30” in cell C2 and “=1.80” in cell C3. Enter “=C2/C3” into cell C4. Company DEF has a 16.67 P/E ahead.


  • Forward P/E analyzes expected earnings to calculate price-to-earnings.1
  • Using predicted earnings per share (EPS), forward P/E may provide inaccurate or skewed findings if revenues differ.
  • Analysts use future and trailing P/E forecasts to improve their predictions.

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