Value investing is easily one of the most popular ways to find great stocks in any market environment. After all, who wouldn’t want to find stocks that are either flying under the radar and are compelling buys, or offer up tantalizing discounts when compared to fair value?
One way to find these companies is by looking at several key metrics and financial ratios, many of which are crucial in the value stock selection process. Let’s put KAR Auction Services, Inc. ( KAR Quick Quote KAR - Free Report) stock into this equation and find out if it is a good choice for value-oriented investors right now, or if investors subscribing to this methodology should look elsewhere for top picks: PE Ratio
A key metric that value investors always look at is the Price to Earnings Ratio, or PE for short. This shows us how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of earnings in a given stock, and is easily one of the most popular financial ratios in the world. The best use of the PE ratio is to compare the stock’s current PE ratio with: a) where this ratio has been in the past; b) how it compares to the average for the industry/sector; and c) how it compares to the market as a whole.
On this front, KAR Auction Services has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 23.11, as you can see in the chart below: This level actually compares pretty favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 24.28. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, KAR Auction Services’ current PE level puts it above its midpoint (which is 20.37) over the past five years, with the number having risen rapidly over the past few months. Further, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks Rretail-Wholesale sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 41.63. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers. We should also point out that KAR Auction Services has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of just 22.34, so it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for KAR Auction Services stock in the near term too. P/S Ratio
Another key metric to note is the Price/Sales ratio. This approach compares a given stock’s price to its total sales, where a lower reading is generally considered better. Some people like this metric more than other value-focused ones because it looks at sales, something that is far harder to manipulate with accounting tricks than earnings.
Right now, KAR Auction Services has a P/S ratio of about 0.78. This is a bit lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.93x right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is well below the highs for this stock in particular over the past few years. If anything, this suggests some level of undervalued trading—at least compared to historical norms. Broad Value Outlook
In aggregate, KAR Auction Services currently has a Value Score of A, putting it into the top 20% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes KAR Auction Services a solid choice for value investors, and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too.
For example, the PEG ratio for KAR Auction Services is just 1.83, a level that is far lower than the industry average of 2.34. The PEG ratio is a modified PE ratio that takes into account the stock’s earnings growth rate. Clearly, KAR is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles. What About the Stock Overall?
Though KAR Auction Services might be a good choice for value investors, there are plenty of other factors to consider before investing in this name. In particular, it is worth noting that the company has a Growth Score of B and a Momentum Score of F. This gives KAR a Zacks VGM score — or its overarching fundamental grade — of A. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores
here >>) Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been dismal at best. The current year has seen one estimate go higher in the past sixty days compared to one lower, while the next year estimate has seen two up and four down in the same time period. This has had just a small impact on the consensus estimate though as the current year consensus estimate has dropped by 1.4% in the past two months, while the next year estimate has declined by 3.7%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below: KAR Auction Services, Inc Price and Consensus
This negative trend is why the stock has just a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) despite strong value metrics and why we are looking for in-line performance from the company in the near term.
KAR Auction Services is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. Further, a strong industry rank (among Top 41% of more than 250 industries) instills our confidence. However, over the past two years, the Zacks Retail – Miscellaneous industry has clearly underperformed the broader market, as you can see below:
So, value investors might want to wait for estimates and analyst sentiment to turn around in this name first, but once that happens, this stock could be a compelling pick. These Stocks Are Poised to Soar Past the Pandemic
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