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, Morgan Stanley MS 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, Morgan Stanley has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 11.09, as you can see in the chart below:
This level actually compares pretty favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 compares in at about 20.66. If we focus on the stock’s long-term PE trend, the current level Morgan Stanley puts current PE ratio above its midpoint (which is 12.22) over the past five years.
Also, the stock’s PE compares favorably with the Zacks Finance sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 12.99. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.
We should also point out that Morgan Stanley has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of 12.24, so it is fair to expect an increase in the company’s share price in the near future.
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, the stock has a P/S ratio of about 1.99. This is substantially lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.42 right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is slightly below the highs for this stock in particular over the past few years.
If anything, this suggests some level of undervalued trading—at least compared to historical norms.
Broad Value Outlook
In aggregate, Morgan Stanley currently has a Value Style Score of B, putting it into the top 40% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes MS a solid choice for value investors and some of its other metrics make it clear too.
For example, the PEG ratio for the stock is just 1.28, a level that is lower than the industry average of 1.58. The PEG ratio is a modified PE ratio that takes into account the stock’s earnings growth rate.Also, its P/CF ratio comes in at 7.21, which is slightly better than the industry average of 8.19. Clearly, MS is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles.
What About the Stock Overall?
Though Morgan Stanley 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 grade of C and a Momentum score of A. This gives MS a 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 encouraging The current quarter has seen five estimates go higher in the past sixty days and none lower, while current year estimate has seen six upward and one downward revision in the same time period.
This has had a noticeable impact on the consensus estimate. The current quarter consensus estimate has risen 34.5% in the past two months, while the current year estimate has improved 8.9% in the same time period. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:
Morgan Stanley Price and Consensus
Morgan Stanley price-consensus-chart | Morgan Stanley Quote
Despite this positive trend, the stock has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), which indicates expectations of in-line performance from the company in the near term.
Morgan Stanley is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. Moreover, a strong industry rank (Top 31% out of more than 250 industries) further supports the growth potential of the stock. However with a Zacks Rank#3 , it is hard to get excited about the stock overall. In fact, over the past one year, the sector has clearly underperformed the broader market, as you can see below:
So, it might pay for value investors to delve deeper into the company’s prospects, as fundamentals indicate that this stock could be a compelling pick.
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