Walmart has the fourth-largest market cap of U.S. stocks, according to GuruFocus’ All-in-One Screener. One year ago, the company had a P/E ratio of 11.13. The P/E has steadily increased since then to trade above 15 all summer and stand at 15.58 on Tuesday. Over the same period, Walmart’s stock price rose 40% to reach $74, after remaining virtually flat, around $50, for a decade.
Over the decade that Walmart’s stock barely moved, its book value per share grew at an annual rate of 10.8% annually. Last fiscal year, it was $22.12. Therefore, it was trading at slightly more than twice book value. Its more recent stock price places it at more than three times book value.
Microsoft has the third-largest market cap. The company has had a similar pattern with its P/E ratio. One year ago it was in the single digits. Then, in the third quarter, it jumped to above 15 and has remained above that number to date. Microsoft’s stock price has increased just 15% over the last year, but in the third quarter it had a $0.06 loss per share, dropping its trailing 12-month earnings used to calculate P/E and resulting in a more expensive stock. It is trading for about $31 on Tuesday.
Microsoft has also grown its book value per share at a slow rate of 2.2% annually. It is similarly priced based on book value per share than it was a year ago. One year ago it traded around 3.9 times book value. Today it is around 4 times book value.
The company still generates strong free cash flow, which reached $29 billion in 2012, and has more than $79 billion in cash on its balance sheet.
Apple has the largest market cap of all U.S. companies, at $638 billion and growing. In a single year, its stock has increased almost 75%, topping $700 per share recently.
Apple’s P/E is the same now, around 16, as it was a year ago. But it has fluctuated in the mean time, falling to as low as around 11 early in 2012. Earnings in the last year increased 71.7%.
The company also became less cheap than it was based on price to tangible book. Its price to tangible book was 4.9 last year, and has increased to 5.06 in the latest quarter.
CVS is a smaller large cap, with a market cap of $58 billion, but one that many Gurus purchased in the last year. Its P/E in fall of last year fell as low as around 13. Since then it has risen to 15.1. Over the same period, the stock has risen 31% to $47.50 per share.
On a tangible book value per share basis, the company has become more expensive. Last year, its price to tangible book was 30.89, and in the latest quarter increased to 37.19.
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