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 Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ALXN 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, Alexion has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 12.85, 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 17.96. Also, if we focus on the long-term PE trend, Alexion’s current PE level puts it way below its midpoint of 31.11 over the past five years.
The stock’s PE compares quite favorably with the Medical Market’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 19.97. This indicates that the stock is undervalued right now, compared to its peers.
Meanwhile, Alexion has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of 11.11, which is lower than the current level. So, it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for Alexion stock in the near term too.
An often-overlooked ratio that can still be a great indicator of value is the price/cash flow metric. This ratio doesn’t take amortization and depreciation into account, so can give a more accurate picture of the financial health in a business. This is a preferred metric to some valuation investors because cash flows are (a) generally less prone to manipulation by the company’s management, and (b) are less affected by variation in accounting policies between different companies.
The ratio is generally applied to find out whether a company’s stock is overpriced or underpriced with reference to its cash flows generation potential compared with its competitors. However, it is not commonly used for cross-industry comparison, as the average price to cash flow ratio varies from industry to industry.
In this case, Alexion’s P/CF ratio of 17.04 is higher than the Medical-Biomed/Genetics industry’s average of 6.93, which indicates that the stock is somewhat overvalued in this respect.
Broad Value Outlook
In aggregate, Alexion currently has a Value Score of B, putting it into the top 40% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Alexion a solid choice for value investors and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too.
For example, the PEG ratio for Alexion is just 0.95, a level that is lower than the industry average of 1.86. The PEG ratio is a modified PE ratio that takes into account the stock’s earnings growth rate.
What About the Stock Overall?
Though Alexion 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 B and a Momentum Score of B. This gives ALXN a Zacks VGM score — or its overarching fundamental grade — of B. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)
Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been bullish. The current quarter has seen nine estimates go down in the past sixty days compared to one upward revision, while the full year estimate has seen no down and eleven up in the same time period.
This has had a positive effect on the consensus estimate. While the current-quarter consensus estimate has increased 4.2% over the past two months, the current-year estimate has also shot up 4.2%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:
Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Price and Consensus
Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. price-consensus-chart | Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Quote
Such bullish analyst sentiments is the reason why the stock has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and why we are looking for outperformance from the company in the near term.
Alexion is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. A strong industry rank (among Top 34% of more than 250 industries) and Zacks Rank #2 instill investors’ optimism in the stock.
However, over the past two years, the broader industry has clearly underperformed the market at large, as you can see below:
We believe, despite an unsatisfactory past industry performance, a good industry and Zacks ranks and bullish analyst sentiments signal that the stock is likely to benefit from favorable broader factors in the immediate future. Add to this robust value metrics, and we believe that we have a strong value contender in ALXN.
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