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Saturday, August 14, 2010

4. Perform Competitive Analysis of the Firm with its Competitors

Step-4: Perform competitive analysis of the firm with its Competitors

This is most important step in analyzing a stock. Unfortunately, most of the retail investors do not bother to do this. It takes time to do this step but it worth trying if you don’t want to loose your money. Many investors buy a stock because they have heard about the company or used the products or think companies have excellent technologies. However, if you do not evaluate or compare those features of the company with other similar firms, how will you figure out whether the firm is utilizing them effectively or is better/worse than others? We also need to find out whether company is growing rapidly or slowly or has no growth. We would like to cover couple of financial ratios here in brief and explain how to use them to figure out a good stock.

P/E: Price-to-earnings ratio is the most widely used ratio in stock valuation. It means how much investors are paying more for each unit of income. It is calculated as Market Price of Stock / Earnings per share. A stock with a high P/E ratio suggests that investors are expecting higher earnings growth in the future compared to the overall market, as investors are paying more for today\'s earnings in anticipation of future earnings growth. Hence, as a generalization, stocks with this characteristic are considered to be growth stocks. However, P/E alone may not tell you the whole story as you see it varies from one company to another because of different growth rates. Hence, another ratio, PEG(P/E divided by Earnings Growth rate) gives a better comparative understanding of the stock.

We do not want to go into the calculation part as values for P/E are available on internet for most of the companies. What we want you to do is fill up the following table for every stock.

Calculate average value for P/E and PEG values. Compare the PEG values of stock X with its peers Y and Z. Also, compare X with the average value to find out whether it is over-valued or under-valued with reference to the industry average. A PEG of less than 1 makes an excellent buy if the company is fundamentally strong. If it is above 2, it is a MUST SELL. If PEG for all the stocks are not very different, one with lowest P/E value would be a great BUY.

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