 Price-to-Cash Flow Ratio (P/CF)

What it is:

The price-to-cash flow ratio (P/CF) is used to evaluate the price of a company's stock as compared to the amount of cash flow it generates.

How it works (Example):

The formula for the price-to-cash flow ratio is:

Price-to-Cash Flow Ratio = Price per share / (Cash flow / Shares outstanding)

For example, let's assume that Company XYZ has a share price of \$3 and has 10,000,000 shares outstanding. In 2010, Company XYZ generated \$5,000,000 of cash flow. Using the formula above, we can calculate Company XYZ's P/CF ratio as:

Price to Cash Flow = \$3 / (\$5,000,000 / 10,000,000) = 6.0

Many analysts recommend using fully diluted shares outstanding when calculating this ratio.

Why it Matters:

The price-to-cash flow ratio offers investors a somewhat more useful look at a company's value than the P/E ratio, because the price-to-cash flow ratio uses a denominator that excludes the effects of depreciation and the accounting differences related to depreciation. It turns the attention to how much cash a company generates relative to its stock price rather than what it records in earnings relative to stock price.

However, the price-to-cash flow ratio is usually more insightful for companies within the same industry, because capital intensity (and thus depreciation) can vary widely among industries. For example, companies with lower price-to-cash flow ratios tend to be more capital-intensive. Thus, the definition of a "high" or "low" ratio should be made within this context.