You'll have to adjust your figures before applying any ranking to them.
There are several ways I can think of to do this, one being you could
adjust all positive values:
and rank the results.
This is likely to be misleading though. You say "a formula that
identifies -7 as the worst, -2 as the second worst and 100 as the third
worst" which begins to suggest that ALL negative numbers are worse than
ANY positive number. Can you confim this? If you do, this means that a
company with a value of .00001 is hugely better than a company whose
value is -.00001, yet that difference might only be caused by a few
pennies difference in their profits/turnover, whatever.
A similar question arises: Is a company with a p/e value of -1 really
always going to be worse than a company with a ratio of 10000?
I'd guess that your answers to the questions in both the above
paragraphs might well br 'no'.
What do you really mean when you say "the best companies have a
low positive ratio"?
Arithmetically, this means that the closer to 0 (without going
negative) a company's p/e ratio can get the better that company is, with
zero being the best possible value to have. As soon as a company's p/e
strays into negative territory it becomes the pits. This just reiterates
what was said above.
If on the other hand that phrase means that p/e ratios from 2 to 8
(say), are good and ratios either side of that worsen, then you need to
define what you reckon to be the best, and how quickly quality falls off
either side of that ideal value (and whether it falls away equally
quickly either side of the ideal).
As an aside, I hope the 100 companies you are comparing are all in the
same sector. What is considered to be a healthy p/e ratio in one sector
might be awful in another. (A baked-bean canning factory is going to
have overheads and costs-per-can-produced and costs of distribution more
or less the same per can, regardless of volume produced, whereas a
software house's overheads and costs of production/distibution are not
so related to volume. Once they have written the software (probably where
most cost/effort goes), costs of sale, distribution, packaging are not
very different whether they sell to 10 people or 10,000 - especially if
they sell and distribute via the internet.)
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