The shares of AK Steel Holding Corporation have increased by more than 13.60% this year alone. The shares recently went down by -0.16% or -$0.01 and now trades at $6.43. The shares of Chico’s FAS, Inc. (NYSE:CHS), has jumped by 4.99% year to date as of 01/11/2018. The shares currently trade at $9.26 and have been able to report a change of 6.68% over the past one week.

The stock of AK Steel Holding Corporation and Chico’s FAS, Inc. were two of the most active stocks on Thursday. 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: 27.78% versus 13.00%**

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 AKS will grow it’s earning at a 27.78% annual rate in the next 5 years. This is in contrast to CHS which will have a positive growth at a 13.00% annual rate. This means that the higher growth rate of AKS 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. AKS has an EBITDA margin of 9.44%, this implies that the underlying business of CHS is more profitable. The ROI of AKS is 14.70% while that of CHS is 13.40%. These figures suggest that AKS ventures generate a higher ROI than that of CHS.

**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, AKS’s free cash flow per share is a negative -1.45, while that of CHS is positive 0.31.

**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 AKS is 1.90 and that of CHS is 1.90. This implies that it is easier for AKS to cover its immediate obligations over the next 12 months than CHS.

**Valuation**

AKS currently trades at a forward P/E of 10.44, and a P/S of 0.33 while CHS trades at a forward P/E of 12.72, a P/B of 1.82, and a P/S of 0.51. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, AKS 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 AKS is currently at a 3.21% to its one-year price target of 6.23. Looking at its rival pricing, CHS is at a 0.87% relative to its price target of 9.18. This figure implies that over the next one year, CHS is a better investment.

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), AKS is given a 2.30 while 2.80 placed for CHS. This means that analysts are more bullish on the outlook for CHS 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 AKS is 3.32 while that of CHS is just 4.78. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for AKS stock.

**Conclusion**

The stock of Chico’s FAS, Inc. defeats that of AK Steel Holding Corporation when the two are compared, with CHS taking 5 out of the total factors that were been considered. CHS 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, CHS is the cheaper one on an earnings, book value and sales basis. Finally, the sentiment signal for CHS is better on when it is viewed on short interest.