Last Friday we looked at the unprecedented earnings collapse that has fueled this bear market. The chart below is the flip side, showing the impact on the S&P 500’s valuation through the Price/Earnings ratio:
Source: Chart of the Day
While the P/E ratio is a familiar rule of thumb that helps us to calculate the relative value of the stock market, like any metric it has a handicap. Looking at the chart, it is clear what that is for the PE ratio. Just imagine how ridiculously meaningless the ratio would be if we actually see negative earnings as many are predicting we will, for the first time ever!
But there’s no reason to panic, running out into the street screaming at the top of your lungs. The fact that the S&P 500’s price earnings ratio is 122.45 right now, once again proves that the price dividend ratio is a superior measure to price earnings. Dividends are a much better way of measuring value because unlike earnings, they are not prone to creative accounting and are considered sacrosanct.
While the P/E ratio is finding irrelevance in the stratosphere, the price dividend ratio is 38.6 - click previous link to see a historical chart of the price dividend ratio. And click this following link to see a chart of the price earnings ratio before the silliness began.
As S&P 500 earnings have collapsed from $62.28 - a year ago - to the present’s miserly $7.21, dividends have been much more robust. Dividends were $28.93 in May 2008 and currently they are $22.87 - a fall of just 21%. The Dow Jones Industrial dividend has fallen even less, 3.6%.
In the end, this is why we use many different methods to measure and analyse the market. Sooner or later, any one of them will go bonkers and provide useless output. At that point, it is important to realize that and not follow it over the ledge like lemmings.
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