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 Centene Corporation CNC 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:
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, Centene Corporation has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 14.95, as you can see in the chart below:
This level actually compares favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 20.83. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, Centene Corporation current PE level puts it below its midpoint of 18.31 over the past five years, with the number having risen rapidly over the past few months. However, the current level stands significantly below the highs for the stock, suggesting that it can be a solid entry point.
Moreover, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks Medical Market sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 23.54. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.
We should also point out that Centene Corporation has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of 13.43, so it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for Centene Corporation’s stock in the near term too.
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, Centene Corporation has a P/S ratio of about 0.38. This is much lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.6 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.
Broad Value Outlook
In aggregate, Centene Corporation currently has a Value Score of A, putting it into the top 20% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Centene Corporation a solid choice for value investors.
For example, the PEG ratio for Centene Corporation is just 0.94, a level that is lower than the industry average of 1.24. The PEG ratio is a modified PE ratio that takes into account the stock’s earnings growth rate. Additionally, its P/CF ratio (another great indicator of value) comes in at 13.91, which is better than the industry average of 14.36. Clearly, CNC is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles.
What About the Stock Overall?
Though Centene Corporation 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 B and Momentum Score of B. This gives CNC a Zacks VGM score — or its overarching fundamental grade — of A. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)
Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been mixed at the best. The current quarter consensus estimate rose 1.37% in the past two months, whereas the current year estimate witnessed no earnings movement. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:
Centene Corporation Price and Consensus
Centene Corporation price-consensus-chart | Centene Corporation Quote
Owing to such bearish estimate trends, the stock has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), which is why we are looking for in-line performance from the company in the near term.
Centene Corporation is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. However, with a Zacks Rank #3, it is hard to get too excited about this company overall. In fact, over the past year, the broader industry has underperformed the market at large, as you can see below:
So, value investors might want to wait for estimates and analyst sentiment to turn around in this name first, but once that happens, this stock could be a compelling pick.
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