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Reliable Long-term Trend to Profit From: Pacific Ethanol, Inc. (PEIX), WPP plc (WPP)

The shares of Pacific Ethanol, Inc. have decreased by more than -17.58% this year alone. The shares recently went down by -8.54% or -$0.35 and now trades at $3.75. The shares of WPP plc (NYSE:WPP), has slumped by -3.72% year to date as of 03/01/2018. The shares currently trade at $87.19 and have been able to report a change of -7.61% over the past one week.

The stock of Pacific Ethanol, Inc. and WPP plc 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: 20.00% versus 10.60%

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 PEIX will grow it’s earning at a 20.00% annual rate in the next 5 years. This is in contrast to WPP which will have a positive growth at a 10.60% annual rate. This means that the higher growth rate of PEIX 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. PEIX has an EBITDA margin of 2.56%, this implies that the underlying business of WPP is more profitable. The ROI of PEIX is 4.20% while that of WPP is 10.40%. These figures suggest that WPP ventures generate a higher ROI than that of PEIX.

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, PEIX’s free cash flow per share is a positive 0.87.

Valuation

PEIX currently trades at a forward P/E of 11.36, a P/B of 0.43, and a P/S of 0.10 while WPP trades at a forward P/E of 10.53, a P/B of 1.67, and a P/S of 1.04. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, PEIX 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 PEIX is currently at a -61.54% to its one-year price target of 9.75. Looking at its rival pricing, WPP is at a -17.75% relative to its price target of 106.00. This figure implies that over the next one year, WPP 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), PEIX is given a 2.00 while 3.50 placed for WPP. This means that analysts are more bullish on the outlook for WPP 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 PEIX is 3.62 while that of WPP is just 3.84. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for PEIX stock.

Conclusion

The stock of WPP plc defeats that of Pacific Ethanol, Inc. when the two are compared, with WPP taking 5 out of the total factors that were been considered. WPP 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, WPP is the cheaper one on an earnings, book value and sales basis. Finally, the sentiment signal for WPP is better on when it is viewed on short interest.

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