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Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits

The Fourth Dimension

The fourth dimension of a stock involves the P/E ratio. To understand a company’s P/E ratio, it is important to understand why a company’s price is going up or down.


A stock’s price goes up or down based on the sentiments of a group of investors, i.e., the financial community appraises the stock of the company. There can be a situation where a company has good financials but is trading at a low price. A company trading at a very low P/E ratio can be categorised as a good stock on most of the occasions.


A conservative investor should look at the industry in which a company is operating. When the market perception of an industry is negative, almost all of the stocks in that industry will have a low P/E ratio. 


Hence, it becomes important for an investor to analyse an industry before analysing a stock. This is known as a Top-Down approach.


The performance of the stock market is an important factor in determining the returns of an investor. When a recessionary period hits, investors get pessimistic about an economy and sell off excessively. This brings down the returns of an investor and can prove to be a good buying opportunity.


There are three external factors which affect the stock market performance:


1. Interest Rates - When interest rates go up, investors sell their stocks and buy fixed-income securities.

2. Savings Rate - When the rate of savings goes down, money flows out of the stock markets.

3. New Issues - New issues suck money out of stock markets.

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