Comparing Top Moving Stocks Norfolk Southern Corporation (NSC), Depomed, Inc. (DEPO)

The shares of Norfolk Southern Corporation have decreased by more than -5.81% this year alone. The shares recently went up by 2.22% or $2.97 and now trades at $136.48. The shares of Depomed, Inc. (NASDAQ:DEPO), has slumped by -14.29% year to date as of 04/16/2018. The shares currently trade at $6.90 and have been able to report a change of 3.76% over the past one week.

The stock of Norfolk Southern Corporation and Depomed, Inc. were two of the most active stocks on Monday. 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: 15.10% versus 25.00%

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 NSC will grow it’s earning at a 15.10% annual rate in the next 5 years. This is in contrast to DEPO which will have a positive growth at a 25.00% annual rate. This means that the higher growth rate of DEPO 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. NSC has an EBITDA margin of 44.9%, this implies that the underlying business of NSC is more profitable. The ROI of NSC is 9.60% while that of DEPO is -0.50%. These figures suggest that NSC ventures generate a higher ROI than that of DEPO.

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, NSC’s free cash flow per share is a positive 1.94, while that of DEPO is positive 0.01.

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 NSC is 0.80 and that of DEPO is 0.70. This implies that it is easier for NSC to cover its immediate obligations over the next 12 months than DEPO. The debt ratio of NSC is 0.60 compared to 3.70 for DEPO. DEPO can be able to settle its long-term debts and thus is a lower financial risk than NSC.


NSC currently trades at a forward P/E of 14.58, a P/B of 2.38, and a P/S of 3.92 while DEPO trades at a forward P/E of 7.81, a P/B of 2.57, and a P/S of 1.17. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, NSC 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 NSC is currently at a -12.33% to its one-year price target of 155.68. Looking at its rival pricing, DEPO is at a -19.49% relative to its price target of 8.57.

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), NSC is given a 2.60 while 2.70 placed for DEPO. This means that analysts are more bullish on the outlook for DEPO 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 NSC is 3.23 while that of DEPO is just 8.37. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for NSC stock.


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

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