What is the price-to-sales ratio?

The price-to-sales ratio, also known as the price-sales ratio, PSR or P/S ratio, is a valuation multiple for stocks (inventory); an alternative method to price/book ratio and price/earnings ratio for valuing a stock. The ratio is sometimes referred to as a revenue multiple or sales multiple.

It is calculated by dividing a business’ share price by its sales revenue per share, or dividing the firm’s market capitalization by its revenue in the most recent year.

The P/S ratio gives us an idea of the value placed on each dollar of a business’ sales or revenues.

As is the case with all financial ratios, this metric is only meaningful when it is used to compare a company with others in the same industry.

Price to Sales RatioBy going over John Doe’s sales over the past 12 months, the price-to-sales ratio came in at 1.

Retail companies, for example, tend to have much higher P/S ratios than businesses highly involved in research and development.

The price-to-share ratio is one of the most useful ways to decide whether a share is cheap or expensive. It has been shown to be a good predictor of a share’s future performance.

A P/S ratio smaller than 1.0 is generally seen as a better investment, because the investor is paying less for each unit of sales. However, some unprofitable companies may also have a low P/S ratio.

A low ratio may be due to undervaluation, while an above-average one may suggest overvaluation.

Generally used for unprofitable enterprises

Because of this calculation’s limitation, P/S ratios are generally only used for unprofitable companies, because they do not have a price-earnings ratio.

The P/S ratio is also useful when comparing the valuation of start-up or very early-stage enterprise that have sales but are not yet profitable.

Analysts say price-to-sales ratios are useful because sales figures are used, which are relatively more reliable than other income statement items, such as earnings, which can be easily manipulated.