The price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is by far the most widely used metric in value investing given its apparent simplicity. The idea of hunting stocks with a low P/E is ingrained in the minds of many investors.
However, even this ubiquitously used equity valuation multiple is not devoid of limitations.
What Makes EV/EBITDA a Better Choice?
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 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. Simply put, it is the total value of a firm.
EBITDA, the other constituent, gives the true 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.
Generally, the lower the EV/EBITDA ratio, the more attractive it is. A low EV/EBITDA ratio could signal 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.
Moreover, P/E can’t be used to value a loss-making firm. A firm’s earnings are also subject to accounting estimates and management manipulation. On the other hand, EV/EBITDA is difficult to manipulate and can also be used to value companies that are making loss but are EBITDA-positive.
EV/EBITDA is also a useful tool in measuring the value of companies that are highly leveraged and have a high degree of depreciation. Moreover, the ratio allows the comparison of companies with different debt levels.
Then again, EV/EBITDA has its flaws too. It varies across industries (a high-growth industry normally has higher multiple and vice versa) and is typically not appropriate while comparing stocks in different industries given their diverse capital expenditure requirements.
As such, a strategy solely based on EV/EBITDA might not fetch the desired outcome. But you can combine it with the other key ratios such as price-to-book (P/B), P/E and price-to-sales (P/S) to screen value stocks.
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:
United Natural Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ:UNFI) is a leading wholesale distributor to the natural, organic and specialty industry in the United States and Canada. This Zacks Rank #1 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 20.6% for fiscal 2018 and a Value Score of A.
Big 5 Sporting Goods Corporation (NASDAQ:BGFV) is a sporting goods retailer in the United States. This Zacks Rank #1 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 19.3% for 2018 and a Value Score of A.
Western Digital Corp (NASDAQ:WDC) addresses ever-changing market needs by providing a full portfolio of compelling, high-quality storage solutions with customer-focused innovation, high efficiency, flexibility and speed. This Zacks Rank #1 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 59.3% for fiscal 2018 and a Value Score of A.
Huntsman Corporation (NYSE:HUN) is among the world’s largest global manufacturers of differentiated and commodity chemical products for a variety of industrial and consumer applications. This Zacks Rank #1 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 24.6% for 2018 and a Value Score of B.
PCM Inc (NASDAQ:PCMI) is a technology solutions provider to businesses, government and educational institutions and individual consumers. The stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 61.7% for 2018. It currently has a Value Score of A and a Zacks Rank #2.
You can get the rest of the stocks on this list by signing up now for your 2-week free trial to the Research Wizard and start using this screen in your own trading. Further, you can also create your own strategies and test them first before taking the investment plunge.
The Research Wizard is a great place to begin. It’s easy to use. Everything is in plain language. And it’s very intuitive. Start your Research Wizard trial today. And the next time you read an economic report, open up the Research Wizard, plug your finds in, and see what gems come out.
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.
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