On May 5, the closing price for the S&P 500 declined by 3.6% to 4146.87 (from 4300.17). Due to this decrease in price, the forward 12-month P/E ratio for the S&P 500 fell to 17.6 from 18.2. How does this 17.6 P/E ratio compare to historical averages?
How Much Has the S&P 500 Forward P/E Ratio Changed in Recent Months?
The forward 12-month P/E ratio of 17.6 on May 5 was below the five-year average of 18.6. However, it was still above the next four most recent historical averages: 10-year (16.9), 15-year (15.5), 20-year (15.5), and 25-year (16.5).
In fact, prior to the last eight trading days, this marked the first time the forward 12-month P/E ratio was below 18.0 since April 13, 2020 (17.9). However, the forward 12-month P/E ratio of 17.6 on May 5 was still well above the lowest P/E ratio of the past nine years of 13.1 recorded on March 23, 2020.
At the sector level, five sectors had forward 12-month P/E ratios on May 5 that were below 18.0, led by the Energy (10.3) and Financials (12.8) sectors. On the other hand, six sectors had forward 12-month P/E ratios that were at or above 18.0 on that date, led by the Consumer Discretionary (25.0) sector.
On January 3, 2022, the S&P 500 closed at a record-high value of 4796.56. The forward 12-month P/E ratio on that date was 21.4. From January 3 through May 5, the price of the S&P 500 decreased by 13.5%, while the forward 12-month EPS estimate increased by 5.7%. Thus, the decrease in the “P” has been the main driver of the decrease in the P/E ratio since January 3.
It is important to note that analysts were still projecting record-high EPS for the S&P 500 of $228.98 for CY 2022 and $250.95 for CY 2023 on May 5. If not, the forward 12-month P/E ratio would likely have been higher than 17.6.
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Mr. John Butters is Vice President and Senior Earnings Analyst at FactSet. His weekly research report, “Earnings Insight,” provides analysis and commentary on trends in corporate earnings data for the S&P 500 including revisions to estimates, year-over-year growth, performance relative to expectations, and valuations. He is a widely used source for the media and has appeared on CNBC, Fox Business News, and the Business News Network. In addition, he has been cited by numerous print and online publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, MarketWatch, and Yahoo! Finance. Mr. Butters has over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to FactSet in January 2011, he worked for more than 10 years at Thomson Reuters (Thomson Financial), most recently as Director of U.S. Earnings Research (2007-2010).
The information contained in this article is not investment advice. FactSet does not endorse or recommend any investments and assumes no liability for any consequence relating directly or indirectly to any action or inaction taken based on the information contained in this article.