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 South Jersey Industries, Inc. SJI 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, South Jersey Industries has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 22.31, 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 24.31. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, South Jersey Industries’ current PE level puts it below its midpoint over the past five years. Moreover, the current level is fairly below the highs for this stock, suggesting it might be a good entry point.
Moreover, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks Utilities sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 16.31. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is slightly overvalued right now, compared to its peers.
We should also point out that South Jersey Industries has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of just 15.41, so it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for South Jersey Industries’ 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, South Jersey Industries has a P/S ratio of about 1.45. This is lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.8 right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is somewhat below the highs for this stock in particular over the past few years.
Broad Value Outlook
In aggregate, South Jersey Industries currently has a Value Score of B, putting it into the top 40% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes South Jersey Industries a solid choice for value investors, and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too.
For example, the PEG ratio for South Jersey Industries is just 1.44, a level that is lower than the industry average of 2.95. The PEG ratio is a modified PE ratio that takes into account the stock’s earnings growth rate. Clearly, SJI is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles.
What About the Stock Overall?
Though South Jersey Industries 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 D and Momentum Score of D. This gives SJI a Zacks VGM score — or its overarching fundamental grade — of D. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)
Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been encouraging. This has had a noticeable impact on the consensus estimate, as the current year consensus estimate increased 0.7% in the past two months, whereas the full-year 2021 estimate increased 0.6%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:
South Jersey Industries, Inc. Price and Consensus
South Jersey Industries, Inc. price-consensus-chart | South Jersey Industries, Inc. Quote
Even with better 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.
South Jersey Industries is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. However, with a sluggish industry rank (bottom 22% out of more than 250 industries) and a Zacks Rank #3, it is hard to get too excited about this company overall. In fact, over the past two years, the sector has clearly underperformed the market at large, as you can see below:
So, value investors might want to wait for estimates, analyst sentiment and broader factors to turn around in this name first, but once that happens, this stock could be a compelling pick.
The Hottest Tech Mega-Trend of All
Last year, it generated $24 billion in global revenues. By 2020, it's predicted to blast through the roof to $77.6 billion. Famed investor Mark Cuban says it will produce "the world's first trillionaires," but that should still leave plenty of money for regular investors who make the right trades early.
See Zacks' 3 Best Stocks to Play This Trend >>
Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
South Jersey Industries, Inc. (SJI) : Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
Zacks Investment Research