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In finance, a multiple refers to a measurement of some aspect of a company’s financial health or valuation. It’s a ratio that compares a company’s market value to a specific financial metric, such as earnings or sales, to estimate the company’s relative value. Common examples include the Price-to-Earnings (P/E) multiple and Enterprise-Value-to-EBITDA multiple.


The phonetic spelling of the word “Multiple” is /ˈmʌltɪpl/.

Key Takeaways

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In the business/finance sector, the term ‘multiple’ is crucial as it helps in evaluating the financial health and value of a company. It represents a ratio that compares a company’s market value to its earnings or other financial metrics. Common multiples such as Price-to-Earnings (P/E), Price-to-Sales (P/S), and Price-to-Book (P/B) allow investors to compare the relative value and potential return of different companies within the same industry. It assists in making informed decisions about investing, buying, or selling stocks. Furthermore, this comparison tool is also used by companies themselves for strategic planning and identifying potential merger and acquisition targets. Therefore, ‘multiple’ has a significant role in making key business and investment decisions.


The term ‘multiple’ is a critical financial metric commonly used in the world of finance and business. It’s a central component in various fundamental valuation techniques, often serving in the analysis and comparison of companies within the same industry, or the assessment of an investment’s value or the trade-off related to acquisitions. It is calculated by dividing the market value or estimated value of an entity by a specific item from that entity’s financial statement. The result is a ratio that provides a snapshot of a company’s relative valuation or the price an investor is willing to pay for a dollar of that item.In practical terms, multiples can be used for assessing a company’s financial health or its robustness compared to its competitors. This helps investors or decision-makers understand if a company is overvalued or undervalued. Some commonly used multiples include the Price/Earnings (P/E) multiple, Enterprise Value/EBITDA multiple, and Price/Book multiple. For instance, prominent investors often use the P/E multiple to determine if a firm’s share price is a good deal compared to its earnings. The multiple is also instrumental in making strategic business decisions like mergers and acquisitions, as it helps determine the fair value of a company.


1. Technology Companies: When investors want to buy the stocks of companies like Amazon or Microsoft, they often compare the price-to-earnings (P/E) multiples of these companies to the industry average or other similar companies. The P/E multiple is calculated by dividing the market value per share by the earnings per share (EPS). For instance, if Amazon’s P/E is 80, and the average P/E of similar technology companies is 50, this could indicate that Amazon’s stock is overvalued.2. Acquisition Deals: When company A decides to acquire company B, they often use multiples to determine the offer price. For example, if small biotech startups are typically bought for a multiple of 10 times their annual revenue, and company B has an annual revenue of $1 million, the offer price by company A may be around $10 million.3. Real Estate Investments: Real estate investors often use multiples to evaluate potential properties. A common multiple in real estate is the Gross Rent Multiplier (GRM), which is calculated by dividing the property price by the annual gross rental income. For example, if a property costs $200,000 and the annual gross rental income is $20,000, the GRM is 10. This helps the investor analyze if the property is a good investment compared to similar properties.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does the term Multiple mean in finance and business?

A multiple is a financial metric that is used to value a company. It is a ratio that compares a company’s stock price to its earnings, sales, or other financial metrics. It is often used in the valuation of companies during mergers and acquisitions.

How is a multiple calculated?

A multiple is calculated by dividing one financial indicator by another. For example, the P/E (price-to-earnings) multiple is calculated by dividing the market value per share by the earnings per share.

What is the importance of multiples in finance?

Multiples are important in finance as they help investors and analysts compare the value of different companies. They can provide a quick and easy way to determine if a company is overvalued or undervalued compared to its peers.

Are higher multiples always better?

Not necessarily. A higher multiple could mean that a stock is overvalued, or it could mean that investors expect higher growth from the company. Similarly, a lower multiple might indicate an undervalued stock or lower expected growth.

What are some examples of multiples used in finance?

Examples of multiple include the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, the price-to-sales (P/S) ratio, the price-to-book (P/B) ratio, and the enterprise multiple.

Why do different industries have different average multiples?

Different industries may have different average multiples due to factors such as different growth prospects, risks, and levels of profitability.

Can multiples be used to compare companies across different industries?

While multiples can provide a quick way to compare the value of different companies, using them to compare companies across different industries may not be accurate due to different industry characteristics, growth rates and risk levels.

Is the use of multiples in business valuation scientific and foolproof?

No, the use of multiples is more of an art than a science. It involves making subjective judgments and interpretations, which can lead to different valuation outcomes depending on the assumptions made.

Related Finance Terms

  • Earnings Multiple
  • Price-to-Earnings (P/E) Multiple
  • Enterprise Value (EV) Multiple
  • Price-to-Sales (P/S) Multiple
  • Price-to-Book (P/B) Multiple

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