You have a number of tools available to you when it comes to evaluating companies with earnings. The first three articles listed at the bottom of this article, in particular deal with earnings directly. You can add the two others on dividends and the one on return on equity to the list as specific to companies that are or have made money in the past.
Does that mean companies that don’t have any earnings are bad investments? Not necessarily, but you should approach companies with no history of actually making money with caution.
The Internet boom of the late 1990s was a classic example of hundreds of companies coming to the market with no history of earning – some of them didn’t even have products yet. Fortunately, that’s behind us.
However, we still have the problem of needing some measure of young companies with no earnings, yet worthy of consideration. After all, Microsoft had no earnings at one point in its corporate life.
One ratio you can use is Price to Sales or P/S ratio. This metric looks at the current stock price relative to the total sales per share. You calculate the P/S by dividing the market cap of the stock by the total revenues of the company.
You can also calculate the P/S by dividing the current stock price by the sales per share.
P/S = Market Cap / Revenues
P/S = Stock Price / Sales Price Per Share
Much like P/E, the P/S number reflects the value placed on sales by the market. The lower the P/S, the better the value, at least that’s the conventional wisdom. However, this is definitely not a number you want to use in isolation. When dealing with a young company, there are many questions to answer and the P/S supplies just one answer. (By Ken Little)