Choosing Between Hot Stocks: Wells Fargo & Company (WFC), Ultra Petroleum Corp. (UPL)

The shares of Wells Fargo & Company have decreased by more than -13.42% this year alone. The shares recently went down by -4.12% or -$2.26 and now trades at $52.53. The shares of Ultra Petroleum Corp. (NASDAQ:UPL), has slumped by -53.75% year to date as of 03/22/2018. The shares currently trade at $4.19 and have been able to report a change of -7.71% over the past one week.

The stock of Wells Fargo & Company and Ultra Petroleum Corp. 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: 9.37% versus 20.40%

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 WFC will grow it’s earning at a 9.37% annual rate in the next 5 years. This is in contrast to UPL which will have a positive growth at a 20.40% annual rate. This means that the higher growth rate of UPL 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. WFC has an EBITDA margin of 49.07%, this implies that the underlying business of UPL is more profitable. The ROI of WFC is 9.80% while that of UPL is 52.00%. These figures suggest that UPL ventures generate a higher ROI than that of WFC.

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, WFC’s free cash flow per share is a positive 0, while that of UPL is negative -0.03.


WFC currently trades at a forward P/E of 9.82, a P/B of 1.42, and a P/S of 4.46 while UPL trades at a forward P/E of 3.48, and a P/S of 0.89. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, WFC 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 WFC is currently at a -18.72% to its one-year price target of 64.63. Looking at its rival pricing, UPL is at a -53.44% relative to its price target of 9.00. This figure implies that over the next one year, UPL 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), WFC is given a 2.80 while 1.80 placed for UPL. This means that analysts are more bullish on the outlook for WFC 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 WFC is 1.70 while that of UPL is just 5.30. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for WFC stock.


The stock of Wells Fargo & Company defeats that of Ultra Petroleum Corp. when the two are compared, with WFC taking 3 out of the total factors that were been considered. WFC 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, WFC is the cheaper one on an earnings, book value and sales basis. Finally, the sentiment signal for WFC is better on when it is viewed on short interest.

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