Which is more compelling pick right now? – Symantec Corporation (SYMC), Ensco plc (ESV)

The shares of Symantec Corporation have decreased by more than -20.42% this year alone. The shares recently went up by 4.35% or $0.93 and now trades at $22.33. The shares of Ensco plc (NYSE:ESV), has jumped by 16.24% year to date as of 05/15/2018. The shares currently trade at $6.87 and have been able to report a change of 14.12% over the past one week.

The stock of Symantec Corporation and Ensco plc were two of the most active stocks on Tueday. 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. SYMC has an EBITDA margin of 20.32%, this implies that the underlying business of SYMC is more profitable. The ROI of SYMC is -0.60% while that of ESV is -1.70%. These figures suggest that SYMC ventures generate a higher ROI than that of ESV.

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, SYMC’s free cash flow per share is a positive 3.72, while that of ESV is negative -12.8.

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 SYMC is 1.20 and that of ESV is 2.80. This implies that it is easier for SYMC to cover its immediate obligations over the next 12 months than ESV. The debt ratio of SYMC is 1.13 compared to 0.00 for ESV. SYMC can be able to settle its long-term debts and thus is a lower financial risk than ESV.


SYMC currently trades at a forward P/E of 12.71, a P/B of 2.79, and a P/S of 4.31 while ESV trades at a P/B of 0.35, and a P/S of 1.69. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, SYMC 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 SYMC is currently at a -24.81% to its one-year price target of 29.70. Looking at its rival pricing, ESV is at a 8.7% relative to its price target of 6.32.

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), SYMC is given a 2.80 while 2.70 placed for ESV. This means that analysts are more bullish on the outlook for SYMC 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 SYMC is 3.85 while that of ESV is just 7.81. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for SYMC stock.


The stock of Ensco plc defeats that of Symantec Corporation when the two are compared, with ESV taking 6 out of the total factors that were been considered. ESV 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, ESV is the cheaper one on an earnings, book value and sales basis. Finally, the sentiment signal for ESV is better on when it is viewed on short interest.

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