LONDON -- It's always worth keeping an eye on the earnings forecasts for your favorite companies, especially if you use forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios to gauge when to buy and sell your shares.

You never know, if City brokers have been revising their projections of late, your investments may not be as cheap -- or expensive -- as you think!

Today I'm looking at the earnings per share (EPS) forecasts for HSBC (LSE:HSBA) (NYSE:HSBC), the FTSE 100's (UKX) biggest bank. All my figures are courtesy of S&P Capital IQ.

The consensus for 2012 is for earnings per share of 56 pence, which puts the 641 pence shares on a forward P/E of 11.4.

However, the estimates suggest earnings may improve slightly to 64 pence per share for 2013 and rise further to 74 pence for 2014.

Earnings may then advance to 93 pence per share for 2015, at least according to City analysts.

The data from S&P Capital IQ also indicates HSBC's revenues may strengthen from 43bn pounds in 2012 to 44.4bn pounds in 2013. It may then climb to 47bn pounds in 2014 and rise to 55bn pounds in 2015.

All told, the forecasts look bright with earnings and revenues expected to make steady progress between 2012 and 2015. But then again, that P/E of 11 looks like the market is already baking modest growth expectations into the price.

Whether these projections make HSBC a buy, a hold or a sell is, of course, up to you. To put the company's multiple into perspective, the FTSE 100 at 5,905 trades on a P/E of 11.4.

If you already have HSBC in your portfolio, there are plenty of other great stocks out there to consider, too. Some of them are listed in our special in-depth Motley Fool report "Eight Top Dividend Plays Held By Britain's Super Investor."

The report is completely free and shows where buy-and-hold maestro Neil Woodford believes the best FTSE shares are to be found today. You can download the report by clicking here.

link

David does not own shares in HSBC. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.