How to Read EPS on Stock Quotes

by Bryan Keythman

    A company’s earnings per share, or EPS, is a key financial metric on its income statement that investors and analysts use to assess its performance and stock price. EPS is the net income, or profit, a company generates during a period for each share of common stock it has outstanding. You can find a company’s EPS from recent periods as well as analyst forecasts of future EPS in the stock quotes section of many financial websites.

    Step 1

    Visit a financial website that offers stock quotes, type a stock’s ticker symbol or company name in the appropriate text box and click “Get Quote” to bring up its stock quote.

    Step 2

    Identify the EPS on the main page of the quote. This represents the sum of the company’s EPS from each of its four most recent quarters and is the EPS used to calculate the popular price-to-earnings, or P/E, ratio. Some websites might report EPS from the most recent fiscal year instead. EPS from the four most recent quarters typically shows “ttm” next to it to designate trailing twelve months. For example, if a company’s stock quote shows “EPS (ttm) $1.50,” it earned $1.50 per share over its four most recent quarters.

    Step 3

    Click “Analyst Estimates” or a similar link on the main quote page. This pulls up tables of EPS numbers compiled from the EPS estimates analysts publish in client reports. Each column shows the ending date of a quarter or year. The rows contain various EPS measures. Some websites show the quarters in rows and EPS in columns.

    Step 4

    Locate the “Earnings Estimate,” or similar, table, which shows the average, low and high analyst EPS estimates for current and future periods. This table also shows the number of analysts providing estimates each period. The more analysts that cover the stock, the more accurate the data typically is.

    Step 5

    Find the row of your desired EPS measure and the column of your desired period and identify the EPS number at their intersection. For example, assume you want to know how much analysts expect the company to earn next year, on average. Find the EPS number in the row of average estimates and the column for next year. If the table shows 2.65, analysts, on average, expect the company to earn $2.65 per share next year.

    Step 6

    Find the “Earnings History” or similarly named table, which shows the company’s actual EPS and analysts’ average estimate EPS in recent quarters.

    Step 7

    Look up the actual EPS and the estimate EPS for each quarter. Compare the two to check how accurately analysts predicted the company’s EPS and to determine whether the company surpassed analyst expectations. Say the company’s estimate EPS and actual EPS were 0.58 and 0.59, respectively, last quarter. This means analysts were only one penny off. The company “beat” analyst expectations, which sometimes has a positive effect on the stock.

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    About the Author

    Bryan Keythman has performed stock investment research and writing for a consulting firm since 2008. He also has prior experience sourcing and underwriting commercial real-estate investment and development opportunities for a commercial real-estate developer. Keythman holds a Bachelor of Science in finance.

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