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The price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is broadly considered by investors as the yardstick for evaluating the fair market value of a stock. It is preferred by many investors to handpick stocks trading at attractive prices. However, even this universally used valuation multiple is not without its limitations.
Is EV-to-EBITDA a Better Substitute to P/E?
While P/E is by far the most-popular valuation metric, a more-complicated metric called EV-to-EBITDA does a better job in working out the fair market value of a firm. Often viewed as a better substitute to P/E, this ratio offers a clearer picture of a company’s valuation and its earnings potential.
Also dubbed as the enterprise multiple, EV-to-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, debt and preferred stock minus cash and cash equivalents.
EBITDA, the other constituent, is a true reflection of a company’s profitability as it eliminates 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-to-EBITDA ratio, the more enticing it is. A low EV-to-EBITDA ratio signals that a stock is potentially undervalued.
EV-to-EBITDA takes into account the debt on a company’s balance sheet that P/E ratio does not. Due to this reason, EV-to-EBITDA is generally used to value potential acquisition targets as it shows the amount of debt the acquirer has to assume. Stocks boasting a low EV-to-EBITDA multiple could be seen as attractive takeover candidates.
Also, P/E can’t be used to value a loss-making firm. A company’s earnings are also subject to accounting estimates and management manipulation. Meanwhile, EV-to-EBITDA is less open to manipulation and can also be used to value companies that are loss-incurring but EBITDA-positive.
EV-to-EBITDA is also a useful tool in measuring the value of firms that are highly leveraged and have a high degree of depreciation. It also allows the comparison of companies with different debt levels.
However, EV-to-EBITDA is also not without its shortcomings 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.
As such, a strategy solely based on EV-to-EBITDA might not yield the desired results. But you can club it with the other major ratios in your stock investing toolbox 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-to-EBITDA 12 Months-Most Recent less than X-Industry Median: A lower EV-to-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 20 stocks that passed the screen:
Amkor Technology, Inc. AMKR is one of the largest providers of semiconductor packaging and test services. This Zacks Rank #1 company has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 121.4% for the current year and a Value Score of A.
Innoviva, Inc. INVA is focused on the development and commercialization of bio-pharmaceuticals. This Zacks Rank #1 stock has expected year-over-year earnings growth of 53.9% for the current year and a Value Score of A. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
United States Cellular Corporation USM is a leading wireless carrier in the United States. This Zacks Rank #1 stock has expected year-over-year earnings growth of 41.7% for the current year and a Value Score of A.
Old Republic International Corporation ORI is engaged in the business of insurance underwriting and related services. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 3.3% for the current year and a Value Score of A.
Regal Beloit Corporation RBC is a leading manufacturer of electrical and mechanical motion control products. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has a Value Score of B. The company beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in each of the trailing four quarters at an average of 28.4%.
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.
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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.
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Regal Beloit Corporation (RBC) : Free Stock Analysis Report
United States Cellular Corporation (USM) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Amkor Technology, Inc. (AMKR) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Old Republic International Corporation (ORI) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Innoviva, Inc. (INVA) : Free Stock Analysis Report
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