The price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is the most commonly used tool for evaluating a firm’s value due to its simplicity. A widely favored approach by value investors is to chase for stocks that have a low P/E ratio. However, even this broadly used valuation multiple is not without its shortcomings.
What Makes EV/EBITDA a Better Alternative?
Although P/E is preferred by many investors while uncovering bargain stocks, another valuation metric called EV/EBITDA does a better job. The ratio is sometimes viewed as a superior substitute as it offers a clearer picture of a firm’s valuation and its earnings potential. EV/EBITDA has a more comprehensive approach to valuation as it determines a firm’s total value. In contrast, P/E just considers a firm’s equity portion.
EV/EBITDA is 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.
EBITDA, the other component of the multiple, is a true reflection of a company’s profitability as it removes the impact of non-cash expenses like depreciation and amortization that dilute net earnings.
Generally, the lower the EV/EBITDA ratio, the more enticing it is. A low EV/EBITDA ratio could signal that a stock is potentially undervalued.
EV/EBITDA takes into account the debt on a company’s balance sheet that P/E ratio does not. Given 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.
Another shortcoming of P/E is that it 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 yardstick in assessing the value of firms that are highly leveraged and have a high degree of depreciation. It also can be used to compare companies with different levels of debt.
However, EV/EBITDA has its limitations too. It varies across industries and is generally not appropriate while comparing stocks in different industries given their diverse capital spending requirements.
Hence, a strategy entirely based on EV/EBITDA might not fetch the desired outcome. But you can club it with other major ratios such as price-to-book (P/B), P/E and price-to-sales (P/S) to screen bargain stocks.
Here are the parameters to screen for bargain 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 17 stocks that passed the screen:
City Office REIT, Inc. CIO is a real estate investment trust that focuses on acquiring, owning, and operating office properties in the United States. This Zacks Rank #1 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 12.8% for the current year and a Value Score of B.
Popular, Inc. BPOP is a diversified, publicly owned bank holding company. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has expected year-over-year earnings growth of roughly 23.7% for the current year and a Value Score of A. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Edison International EIX is a generator and distributor of electric power, as well as a provider of energy services and technologies, including renewable energy. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 8.8% for the current year and a Value Score of A.
Applied Optoelectronics, Inc. AAOI designs, develops and manufactures advanced optical devices, packaged optical components, optical subsystems, laser transmitters and fiber optic transceivers. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 33.4% for the current year and a Value Score of A.
MDU Resources Group, Inc. MDU provides value-added natural resource products and related services that are essential to energy and transportation infrastructure. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 10.1% 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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