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Is CAI International (CAI) a Potential Stock for Value Investors?

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·5 min read
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Value investing is easily one of the most popular ways to find great stocks in any market environment. After all, who wouldn’t want to find stocks that are either flying under the radar and are compelling buys, or offer up tantalizing discounts when compared to fair value?

One way to find these companies is by looking at several key metrics and financial ratios, many of which are crucial in the value stock selection process. Let’s put CAI International, Inc. CAI stock into this equation and find out if it is a good choice for value-oriented investors right now, or if investors subscribing to this methodology should look elsewhere for top picks:

PE Ratio

A key metric that value investors always look at is the Price to Earnings Ratio, or PE for short. This shows us how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of earnings in a given stock, and is easily one of the most popular financial ratios in the world. The best use of the PE ratio is to compare the stock’s current PE ratio with: a) where this ratio has been in the past; b) how it compares to the average for the industry/sector; and c) how it compares to the market as a whole.

On this front, CAI International has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 8.37, as you can see in the chart below:

Zacks Investment Research
Zacks Investment Research


Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

This level actually compares pretty favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 25.73. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, CAI International’s current PE level puts it above its midpoint (which is 7.56) over the past five years, with the number having risen rapidly over the past few months.

Zacks Investment Research
Zacks Investment Research


Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Further, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks Transportation sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 167.93. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.

Zacks Investment Research
Zacks Investment Research


Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

We should also point out that CAI International has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of just 7.13, so it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for CAI International stock in the near term too.

P/S Ratio

Another key metric to note is the Price/Sales ratio. This approach compares a given stock’s price to its total sales, where a lower reading is generally considered better. Some people like this metric more than other value-focused ones because it looks at sales, something that is far harder to manipulate with accounting tricks than earnings.

Right now, CAI International has a P/S ratio of about 3.04. This is a bit lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 5.12x right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is well below the highs for this stock in particular over the past few years.

Zacks Investment Research
Zacks Investment Research


Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

If anything, this suggests some level of undervalued trading—at least compared to historical norms.

Broad Value Outlook

In aggregate, CAI International currently has a Value Score of A, putting it into the top 20% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes CAI International a solid choice for value investors, and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too.

For example, the P/CF ratio (another great indicator of value) comes in at 4.55, which is far better than the industry average of 6.26. Clearly, CAI is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles.

What About the Stock Overall?

Though CAI International might be a good choice for value investors, there are plenty of other factors to consider before investing in this name. In particular, it is worth noting that the company has a Growth Score of C and a Momentum Score of C. This gives CAI a Zacks VGM score — or its overarching fundamental grade — of B. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)

Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been robust at best. The current year has seen one estimate go higher in the past sixty days compared to none lower, while the next year estimate has seen one up and none down in the same time period.

This has had a noticeable impact on the consensus estimate though as the current year consensus estimate has risen by 2.9% in the past two months, while the next year estimate has inched higher by 0.1%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:

CAI International, Inc. Price and Consensus

CAI International, Inc. Price and Consensus
CAI International, Inc. Price and Consensus

CAI International, Inc. price-consensus-chart | CAI International, Inc. Quote

This somewhat favorable trend is why the stock has just a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and why we are looking for better performance from the company in the near term.

Bottom Line

CAI International is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. Further, a strong industry rank (among Top 9% of more than 250 industries) instills our confidence. In fact, over the past two years, the Zacks Transportation - Equipment and Leasing industry has clearly underperformed the broader market, as you can see below:

Zacks Investment Research
Zacks Investment Research


Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

So, value investors might want to wait for analyst sentiment to turn around in this name first, but once that happens, this stock could be a compelling pick.


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