Probably one of the most difficult problems that the private investor faces is the problem of selection. There are approximately 400 companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, so how can you select the best opportunity from these – especially when each is a complex organisation with many strengths and weaknesses.
One of the mechanisms used by investors is the earnings multiple. The multiple is the number of times that the company’s earnings per share (EPS) can be taken out of its current share price in the market. Thus, if a company is trading on the JSE for 1000c today in the market and in its most recent annual financial statements it reported EPS of 100c, then it is on a multiple of 10 – or, put in another way, at the current rate of earnings it would take exactly ten years to recover the current cost of the share in the market.
The multiple of a share shows how investors rate the company. If the company has a high multiple, then it means that investors are prepared to pay much more for 100c of its profits than they are for 100c of other companies’ profits. Thus, for example, right now investors are willing to pay 31 times Capitec’s EPS to buy one of its shares, but the same investors are only prepared to pay 11 times Standard Bank’s EPS for its shares. This is because Capitec is more “highly rated”. Investors believe that the Capitec business model will produce a bigger, better and more reliable stream of EPS in the future than Standard Bank’s will – much bigger and better. Read More