Earnings Per Share (EPS) Definition – The portion of a company’s profit allocated to each outstanding share of common stock. Earnings per share serves as an indicator of a company’s profitability.
Eps=(Net income – preference divided)/Average outstanding shares.
When calculating, it is more accurate to use a weighted average number of shares outstanding over the reporting term, because the number of shares outstanding can change over time. However, data sources sometimes simplify the calculation by using the number of shares outstanding at the end of the period.
Earnings per share is generally considered to be the single most important variable in determining a share’s price. It is also a major component used to calculate the price-earnings ratio.
An important aspect of EPS that’s often ignored is the capital that is required to generate the earnings (net income) in the calculation. Two companies could generate the same EPS number, but one could do so with less equity (investment) – that company would be more efficient at using its capital to generate income and, all other things being equal, would be a “better” company. Investors also need to be aware of earnings manipulation that will affect the quality of the earnings number. It is important not to rely on any one financial measure, but to use it in conjunction with statement analysis and other measures.