The price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is broadly considered by investors as a yardstick for evaluating the fair market value of a stock. Many prefer to take the P/E route in their quest for stocks that are trading at attractive prices. However, even this widely popular valuation metric is not without its pitfalls.
Is EV/EBITDA a Better Substitute to P/E?
Although P/E is hands down the most widely used equity valuation ratio in the market, a relatively less-used metric called EV/EBITDA is often viewed as a better option as it offers a clearer image of a company’s valuation and earnings potential. Unlike P/E that solely considers a company’s equity portion, EV/EBITDA determines its total value.
EV/EBITDA, also known as the enterprise multiple, is essentially 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, its debt and preferred stock minus cash and cash equivalents. In a nutshell, it is the total value of a company.
The other element of the ratio, EBITDA gives the true picture of a company’s profitability as it removes 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.
Usually, the lower the EV/EBITDA ratio, the more attractive it is. A low EV/EBITDA ratio could imply that a stock is potentially undervalued and vice versa.
However, unlike P/E ratio, EV/EBITDA takes into account the debt on a company’s balance sheet. For this reason, EV/EBITDA is usually used to value possible acquisition targets. Stocks with a low EV/EBITDA multiple could be seen as potential takeover candidates.
Moreover, 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. In contrast, EV/EBITDA is less open to manipulation and can also be used to value companies that are making loss but are EBITDA-positive.
EV/EBITDA is also a useful tool in measuring the value of companies that are highly leveraged and have a high degree of depreciation. Moreover, the ratio allows the comparison of companies with different debt levels.
However, EV/EBITDA is not without its flaws and it alone can’t conclusively determine a stock’s inherent potential and future performance. It varies across industries (a high-growth industry normally has higher multiple and vice versa) and is typically not appropriate while comparing stocks in different industries given their diverse capital expenditure requirements.
Therefore, instead of solely relying on EV/EBITDA, you can club it with the other key ratios such as price-to-book (P/B), P/E and price-to-sales (P/S) to achieve the desired outcome.
Here are the parameters to screen for value stocks:
EV/EBITDA 12 Months-Most Recent less than X-Industry Median: A lower EV/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 13 stocks that passed the screen:
Quanta Services, Inc. PWR is a leading specialized contracting services company, delivering infrastructure solutions for the electric power, oil and gas and communications industries. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 28.8% for the current year and a Value Score of A.
Principal Financial Group, Inc. PFG helps people and companies around the world build, protect and advance their financial well-being through retirement, insurance and asset management solutions that suit their lives. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 2.9% for the current year and a Value Score of A. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
DXC Technology Company DXC is an IT services company. Its services include analytics, application, business process, security, consulting, enterprise and cloud applications. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 3.9% for the current fiscal year and a Value Score of A.
Universal Forest Products, Inc. UFPI is a holding company of businesses that combine to create one of the largest producers of wood and wood-alternative products in North America. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 16.3% for the current year and a Value Score of B.
Newmark Group, Inc. NMRK operates as a commercial real estate advisory firm. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 7.2% for the current year and a Value Score of B.
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.
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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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Universal Forest Products, Inc. (UFPI) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Quanta Services, Inc. (PWR) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Principal Financial Group, Inc. (PFG) : Free Stock Analysis Report
DXC Technology Company. (DXC) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Newmark Group, Inc. (NMRK) : Free Stock Analysis Report
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