Lingo every investor should know

EPS sets the course
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Yes, EPS sounds a lot like a helpful navigational device you may have in your car. It isn't. But it nevertheless can steer investors in the right direction. EPS stands for earnings per share. Like ROE, it's a tool for measuring profitability. You get EPS by dividing the net income of the company by the number of its outstanding shares of common stock. Most public companies report their EPS on a quarterly and annual basis.

"EPS is a big one," says Richard Ferri, founder of Portfolio Solutions in Troy, Mich., and author of "All About Asset Allocation." "It tells you how much you are making per share."

Remember: The formula is dependent on profits and the number of shares. For instance, a company that earns $1 million and has one million shares outstanding has the same EPS as a company that earns $500,000 and has a half-million shares outstanding. In both cases, the EPS is $1.




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