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5 Value Stocks With Alluring EV/EBITDA Ratios to Own Now

Anindya Barman

Investors typically have a fixation on the price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple while seeking stocks that are trading at attractive prices. A widely favored approach by value investors is to chase stocks that have a low P/E ratio. But even this straightforward, broadly used valuation metric suffers a few downsides.

EV/EBITDA is a Better Approach, Here’s Why

While P/E enjoys great popularity, a less-used and more-complicated metric called EV/EBITDA gains an upper hand as it offers a clearer picture of a company’s valuation and earnings potential. EV/EBITDA, also known as the enterprise multiple, has a more complete approach to valuation as it determines a firm’s total value. P/E, on the other hand, considers only its equity portion.

EV/EBITDA is essentially the enterprise value (EV) of a stock divided by its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). EV is the sum of a company’s market capitalization, its debt and preferred stock minus cash and cash equivalents. In a nutshell, it is the total value of a company.

EBITDA, the other constituent, gives a clearer picture of a company’s profitability as it removes the impact of non-cash expenses like depreciation and amortization that depress net earnings. It is also often used as a proxy for cash flows.

Just like P/E, the lower the EV/EBITDA ratio, the more appealing it is. A low EV/EBITDA ratio could be a sign that a stock is potentially undervalued.

However, unlike P/E ratio, EV/EBITDA takes into account the debt on a company’s balance sheet. For this reason, EV/EBITDA is usually used to value possible acquisition targets. Stocks with a low EV/EBITDA multiple could be seen as potential takeover candidates.

Another key drawback of P/E is that it can’t be used to value a loss-making entity. A firm’s earnings are also subject to accounting estimates and management manipulation. In contrast, EV/EBITDA is less amenable to manipulation and can also be used to value companies that are making loss but are EBITDA-positive.

EV/EBITDA is also a useful yardstick in measuring the value of firms that are highly leveraged and have a high degree of depreciation. Moreover, it can be used to compare companies with different levels of debt.

However, EV/EBITDA is also not without its limitations and alone cannot conclusively determine a stock’s inherent potential and future performance. The ratio varies across industries and is generally not appropriate while comparing stocks in different industries given their diverse capital spending requirements.

Hence, instead of solely relying on EV/EBITDA, you can club it with the other key ratios such as price-to-book (P/B), P/E and price-to-sales (P/S) to achieve the desired outcome.

Screening Criteria

Here are the parameters to screen for value stocks:

EV/EBITDA 12 Months-Most Recent less than X-Industry Median: A lower EV/EBITDA ratio represents a cheaper valuation.

P/E using (F1) less than X-Industry Median: This metric screens stocks that are trading at a discount to their peers.

P/B less than X-Industry Median: A lower P/B compared with the industry average implies that the stock is undervalued.

P/S less than X-Industry Median: The lower the P/S ratio the more attractive the stock is as investors will have to pay a smaller price for the same amount of sales generated by the company.

Estimated One-Year EPS Growth F(1)/F(0) greater than or equal to X-Industry Median: This parameter will help in screening stocks that have growth rates higher than the industry median. This is a meaningful indicator as decent earnings growth always adds to investor optimism.

Average 20-day Volume greater than or equal to 100,000: The addition of this metric ensures that shares can be traded easily.

Current Price greater than or equal to $5: This parameter will help in screening stocks that are trading at a minimum price of $5 or higher.

Zacks Rank less than or equal to 2: No screening is complete without the Zacks Rank, which has proven its worth since inception. It is a fundamental truth that stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) have always managed to beat adversities and outperform the market.

Value Score of less than or equal to B: Our research shows that stocks with a Value Score of A or B when combined with a Zacks Rank #1 or 2 offer the best upside potential.

Here are five of the 12 stocks that passed the screen:

Comtech Telecommunications Corp. CMTL designs, develops, produces and markets innovative products, systems and services for advanced communications solutions. This Zacks Rank #1 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 17.3% for the current fiscal year and a Value Score of B.

Israel Chemicals Ltd. ICL is a manufacturer of specialty fertilizers and specialty phosphates, flame retardants and water treatment solutions. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 13.5% for the current year. It also has a Value Score of A. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Textron Inc. TXT is one of the world’s best-known, multi-industry companies that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative products and services. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 9.9% for the current year and a Value Score of B.

SPX FLOW, Inc. FLOW is a supplier of engineered flow components, process equipment and turn-key systems, along with the related aftermarket parts and services. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has expected year-over-year earnings growth of 9.9% for the current year and a Value Score of B.

Vipshop Holdings Limited VIPS is an online discount retailer for brands in China. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 31% for the current year and a Value Score of B.

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Disclosure: Officers, directors and/or employees of Zacks Investment Research may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material. An affiliated investment advisory firm may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material.

Disclosure: Performance information for Zacks’ portfolios and strategies are available at: https://www.zacks.com/performance.