a. Price Earnings Ratios (PE): The median current PE ratio for US stocks, which plunged from about 19 in January 2008 to about 9 in January 2009, is now back to almost 15. Similar shifts have occurred in the trailing and forward PE ratios and in most sectors.
b. EV/EBITDA: The median EV/EBITDA multiple for US companies, which had dropped from about 9 in January 2008 to 6 in January 2008, had bounced back to 8 by January 2009.
The bounce back in multiples in emerging market companies has been even more robust. The shifts in multiples globally parallel the change in equity risk premiums that I noted in the last post.
The change in multiples in 2010 brings home a fundamental fact that the multiples of earnings, book value or revenues that we are willing to pay depends upon how risk averse we are (and the risk premiums that we consequently demand). That is one reason why I have always been wary of those who compare market multiples across time and pass easy judgments on whether stocks are cheap or expensive.