Financial Metrics You Should Care About: Ecopetrol S.A. (EC), Peabody Energy Corporation (BTU)

The shares of Ecopetrol S.A. have increased by more than 43.20% this year alone. The shares recently went down by -2.96% or -$0.64 and now trades at $20.95. The shares of Peabody Energy Corporation (NYSE:BTU), has slumped by -9.45% year to date as of 04/16/2018. The shares currently trade at $35.65 and have been able to report a change of -1.33% over the past one week.

The stock of Ecopetrol S.A. and Peabody Energy Corporation 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.

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. The ROI of EC is 10.80% while that of BTU is 25.30%. These figures suggest that BTU ventures generate a higher ROI than that of EC.

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, EC’s free cash flow per share is a positive 1408.44, while that of BTU is positive 10.09.

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 EC is 1.40 and that of BTU is 1.80. This implies that it is easier for EC to cover its immediate obligations over the next 12 months than BTU. The debt ratio of EC is 0.91 compared to 0.48 for BTU. EC can be able to settle its long-term debts and thus is a lower financial risk than BTU.


EC currently trades at a forward P/E of 14.10, a P/B of 2.43, and a P/S of 2.14 while BTU trades at a forward P/E of 18.83, a P/B of 2.21, and a P/S of 0.81. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, EC 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 EC is currently at a 61.03% to its one-year price target of 13.01. Looking at its rival pricing, BTU is at a -27.44% relative to its price target of 49.13.

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), EC is given a 4.00 while 2.00 placed for BTU. This means that analysts are more bullish on the outlook for EC 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 EC is 8.75 while that of BTU is just 4.12. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for BTU stock.


The stock of Ecopetrol S.A. defeats that of Peabody Energy Corporation when the two are compared, with EC taking 4 out of the total factors that were been considered. EC 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, EC is the cheaper one on an earnings, book value and sales basis. Finally, the sentiment signal for EC is better on when it is viewed on short interest.

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