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Thursday
Nov082012

P/E Ratios Contract

The market pullback during a relatively strong earnings season for bottom line numbers has caused P/E ratios to contract recently.  Below we highlight one-year P/E ratio charts (trailing 12-month) for the S&P 500 and its ten sectors.  As shown, the S&P 500's current P/E stands at 13.92.

We've really seen a pullback in P/Es for three defensive sectors lately -- Consumer Staples, Telecom and Utilities.  This summer we noted the big increase in valuations for the Utilities sector as investors plowed into dividend paying stocks.  But with an increase in dividend taxes on the horizon, we're starting to see an exodus out of the inflated higher yielding names, and it's bringing P/E ratios down with it.  Even with the drop, however, the Utilities sector still has a higher P/E than the Technology sector, which is having its own problems lately.

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