The shares of Cimarex Energy Co. have decreased by more than -27.16% this year alone. The shares recently went down by -0.09% or -$0.08 and now trades at $88.87. The shares of Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG), has jumped by 11.78% year to date as of 08/09/2018. The shares currently trade at $1942.39 and have been able to report a change of -4.46% over the past one week.

The stock of Cimarex Energy Co. and Booking Holdings Inc. 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: 55.97% versus 15.58%**

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 XEC will grow it’s earning at a 55.97% annual rate in the next 5 years. This is in contrast to BKNG which will have a positive growth at a 15.58% annual rate. This means that the higher growth rate of XEC 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. XEC has an EBITDA margin of 36.95%, this implies that the underlying business of XEC is more profitable. The ROI of XEC is 11.70% while that of BKNG is 18.60%. These figures suggest that BKNG ventures generate a higher ROI than that of XEC.

**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, XEC’s free cash flow per share is a positive 1.74, while that of BKNG is positive 3.92.

**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 XEC is 1.50 and that of BKNG is 2.10. This implies that it is easier for XEC to cover its immediate obligations over the next 12 months than BKNG. The debt ratio of XEC is 0.54 compared to 0.84 for BKNG. BKNG can be able to settle its long-term debts and thus is a lower financial risk than XEC.

**Valuation**

XEC currently trades at a forward P/E of 10.59, a P/B of 3.03, and a P/S of 4.27 while BKNG trades at a forward P/E of 19.19, a P/B of 8.83, and a P/S of 7.12. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, XEC 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 XEC is currently at a -28.63% to its one-year price target of 124.52. Looking at its rival pricing, BKNG is at a -14.85% relative to its price target of 2281.16.

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), XEC is given a 2.00 while 2.10 placed for BKNG. This means that analysts are more bullish on the outlook for BKNG 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 XEC is 2.81 while that of BKNG is just 3.35. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for XEC stock.

Conclusion

The stock of Booking Holdings Inc. defeats that of Cimarex Energy Co. when the two are compared, with BKNG taking 4 out of the total factors that were been considered. BKNG 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, BKNG is the cheaper one on an earnings, book value and sales basis. Finally, the sentiment signal for BKNG is better on when it is viewed on short interest.