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Earnings per Share, Price Earnings Ratios, Book Value per Share, and Dividend Rates

How is one to meaningfully compare the net income of a large corporation that has tens of millions of shares outstanding to smaller companies that may have less than even one million shares out? The larger company is probably expected to produce a greater amount of income. But, the smaller company might be doing better per unit of ownership. To adjust for differences in size, public companies must supplement their income reports with a number that represents earnings on a per share basis. Earnings per share, or EPS, is easily the most widely followed and best understood performance measure in corporate reporting. It represents the amount of net income for each share of common stock. Corporate communications and news stories will typically focus on the EPS results, but care should be taken in drawing any definitive conclusions based on a single calculated value. Remember, lots of nonrecurring transactions and events can positively or negatively impact income and EPS; always look beyond the headlines.

Basic EPS

Having now been introduced to EPS concepts, it is time to focus on the accounting calculation of this important number. Basic EPS may be thought of as a simple fraction with income in the numerator and the number of common shares in the denominator, as follows:

Income/Number of Common Shares Outstanding

Expanding this thought, consider that income is for a period of time (e.g., a quarter or year), and during that period of time, the number of shares might have increased or decreased because of share issuances and treasury stock transactions. Therefore, a more correct characterization of the Basic EPS calculation is:

Income/Weighted-Average Number of Common Shares Outstanding

Further, one must consider that some companies have both common and preferred shares. Remember that dividends on common and preferred stock are not expenses and do not reduce income. However, the preferred stock dividends do lay claim to some of the corporate income stream that would otherwise benefit common shares. Therefore, one more modification is needed to correctly portray the Basic EPS fraction:

Basic EPS

Income Available to Common/ Weighted-Average Number of Common Shares Outstanding

This last modification to the Basic EPS calculation entails a reduction of income by the amount of preferred dividends for the period.

An illustration may help to clarify the calculation of Basic EPS. Assume that Kooyul Corporation began 20X4 with 1,000,000 shares of common stock outstanding. On April 1, 20X4, Kooyul issued 200,000 additional shares of common stock, and 120,000 shares of common stock were reacquired on November 1. Kooyul reported net income of $2,760,000 for the year ending December 31, 20X4. Kooyul also had 50,000 shares of preferred stock on which $500,000 in dividends were rightfully declared and paid during 20X4. Kooyul paid $270,000 in dividends to common shareholders. How much is Kooyul's EPS?

Income available to Kooyul's common shareholders is $2,260,000. This amount is calculated as the net income ($2,760,000) minus the preferred dividends ($500,000). Dividends on common stock do not impact the EPS calculation.

Weighted-average common shares outstanding during 20X4 are 1,130,000. The following table illustrates how this is calculated:

Time Interval

Portion of Year

Shares Outstanding During Time Interval


Weighted-Average Impact

Jan. 1 through March 31

3 months


3/12 X 1,000,000 =


April 1 through Oct. 31

7 months

1,200,000 (1,000,000 + 200,000)

7/12 X 1,200,000 =


Nov. 1 through Dec. 31

2 months

1,080,000 (1,200,000 - 120,000)

2/12 X 1,080,000 =


12 months


Therefore, Kooyul's Basic EPS is $2 per share ($2,260,000/1,130,000).

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