The shares of Applied Materials, Inc. have increased by more than 5.81% this year alone. The shares recently went down by -2.12% or -$1.17 and now trades at $54.09. The shares of Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ:CHKP), has slumped by -6.53% year to date as of 05/15/2018. The shares currently trade at $96.85 and have been able to report a change of -3.08% over the past one week.

The stock of Applied Materials, Inc. and Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. were two of the most active stocks on Tueday. Investors seem to be very interested in what happens to the stocks of these two companies but do investors favor one over the other? We will analyze the growth, profitability, risk, valuation, and insider trends of both companies and see which one investors prefer.

**Next 5Y EPS Growth: 18.88% versus 6.00%**

When a company is able to grow consistently in terms of earnings at a high compound rate have the highest likelihood of creating value for its shareholders over time. Analysts have predicted that AMAT will grow it’s earning at a 18.88% annual rate in the next 5 years. This is in contrast to CHKP which will have a positive growth at a 6.00% annual rate. This means that the higher growth rate of AMAT implies a greater potential for capital appreciation over the years.

**Profitability and Returns**

Growth alone cannot be used to see if the company will be valuable. Shareholders will be the losers if a company invest in ventures that aren’t profitable enough to support upbeat growth. In order for us to accurately measure profitability and return, we will be using the EBITDA margin and Return on Investment (ROI), which balances the difference in capital structure. AMAT has an EBITDA margin of 30.85%, this implies that the underlying business of AMAT is more profitable. The ROI of AMAT is 24.40% while that of CHKP is 21.00%. These figures suggest that AMAT ventures generate a higher ROI than that of CHKP.

**Cash Flow**

The value of a stock is ultimately determined by the amount of cash flow that the investors have available. Over the last 12 months, AMAT’s free cash flow per share is a positive 7.8, while that of CHKP is positive 22.56.

**Liquidity and Financial Risk**

The ability of a company to meet up with its short-term obligations and be able to clear its longer-term debts is measured using Liquidity and leverage ratios. The current ratio for AMAT is 3.00 and that of CHKP is 1.60. This implies that it is easier for AMAT to cover its immediate obligations over the next 12 months than CHKP. The debt ratio of AMAT is 0.00 compared to 0.00 for CHKP. CHKP can be able to settle its long-term debts and thus is a lower financial risk than AMAT.

**Valuation**

AMAT currently trades at a forward P/E of 11.64, a P/B of 6.72, and a P/S of 3.69 while CHKP trades at a forward P/E of 16.02, a P/B of 4.28, and a P/S of 8.19. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, AMAT is the cheaper one. It is very obvious that earnings are the most important factors to investors, thus analysts are most likely to place their bet on the P/E.

**Analyst Price Targets and Opinions**

The mistake some people make is that they think a cheap stock has more value to it. In order to know the value of a stock, there is need to compare its current price to its likely trading price in the future. The price of AMAT is currently at a -22.88% to its one-year price target of 70.14. Looking at its rival pricing, CHKP is at a -12.47% relative to its price target of 110.65.

When looking at the investment recommendation on say a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being a strong buy, 3 a hold, and 5 a sell), AMAT is given a 1.70 while 2.60 placed for CHKP. This means that analysts are more bullish on the outlook for CHKP stocks.

**Insider Activity and Investor Sentiment**

Short interest or otherwise called the percentage of a stock’s tradable shares currently being shorted is another data that investors use to get a handle on sentiment. The short ratio for AMAT is 1.18 while that of CHKP is just 7.70. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for AMAT stock.

Conclusion

The stock of Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. defeats that of Applied Materials, Inc. when the two are compared, with CHKP taking 5 out of the total factors that were been considered. CHKP happens to be more profitable, generates a higher ROI, has higher cash flow per share, higher liquidity and has a lower financial risk. When looking at the stock valuation, CHKP is the cheaper one on an earnings, book value and sales basis. Finally, the sentiment signal for CHKP is better on when it is viewed on short interest.