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FCN or CRAI: Which Consulting Services Stock Should You Hold?

Zacks Equity Research
·3 min read

The demand for consulting services is currently under near- to mid-term pressure. This is because the coronavirus pandemic has hit the economy hard, and slowed down both manufacturing and non-manufacturing activities.

Nevertheless, consulting services is one of the least-affected industries. This is because, amid such a volatile situation, organizations have increased their search for advice that can help them protect employees, and stay close to customers and shareholders. Further, the industry is one of the early pioneers of remote work. The nature of work allows industry players to get the job done through increased use of technology.

Given this backdrop, it is not a bad idea to undertake a comparative analysis of two Consulting Services stocks — FTI Consulting, Inc. FCN and Charles River Associates CRAI. Both the stocks are part of the broader Zacks Business Services sector (one of the 16 Zacks sectors). While market capitalization of FTI Consulting is $4.28 billion, the same for Charles River Associates is $299.57 million.

As both the stocks carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), we are using certain other parameters to give investors a better insight. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Price Performance

FTI Consulting clearly scores over Charles River in terms of price performance. Over the past year, shares of FTI Consulting have gained 46.3%, outperforming the 7.6% rise of Charles River and 5.8% growth of the industry.

 

Earnings Surprise History

Earnings surprise history helps investors to get an idea of the company’s performance in the previous quarters.

FTI Consulting’s earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in two of the previous four quarters while Charles River’s earnings outpaced the consensus mark in three of the past four quarters.

However, FTI Consulting delivered a higher average positive earnings surprise of 30.7% compared with 19.8% for Charles River.

Valuation

The price to earnings ratio (P/E) metric is used to measure a company's value relative to its earnings. In general, a lower number or multiple is considered better than a higher one.

The trailing 12-month price-to-earnings (P/E - TTM) multiple for FTI Consulting and Charles River is 21 and 12.4, respectively, while that of the industry is 23.8.

Given that both the companies compare favorably with the industry, Charles River has a lower P/E - TTM value than FTI Consulting.

Net Margin

Net profit margin helps investors evaluate a company’s business model in terms of pricing policy, cost structure and operating efficiency, and shows how good it is at converting revenues into profits. Hence, a strong net profit margin is preferred by all classes of investors.

FTI Consulting and Charles River have a TTM net margin of 8.8% and 4.8%, respectively. Though both the stocks compare unfavorably with the industry’s figure of 10.9%, FTI Consulting has a lead over Charles River.

Bottom Line

Our comparative analysis shows that FTI Consulting scores over Charles River in terms of price performance, earnings surprise history and net margin.

A faster share price rally over the past year has led to a rich valuation for FTI Consulting compared with Charles River. .

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Charles River Associates (CRAI) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
FTI Consulting, Inc. (FCN) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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Zacks Investment Research