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Pick These 5 Bargain Stocks With Alluring EV-to-EBITDA Ratios

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Value investors usually have a fixation with the price-to-earnings (P/E) strategy in their quest for stocks that are trading at a bargain. P/E, without a shadow of doubt, is the most popular multiple used by investors to evaluate the fair market value of a stock. However, even this widely-popular valuation metric is not without its pitfalls.

Is EV-to-EBITDA a Better Substitute to P/E?

Although P/E is preferred by many investors to uncover bargain stocks, a more complicated multiple called EV-to-EBITDA works even better and helps to allay some of the inherent flaws of the former. Often considered as a better alternative to P/E, it gives a true picture of a company’s valuation and its earning potential and has a more complete approach to valuation. While P/E just considers a firm’s equity portion, EV-to-EBITDA determines its total value.

EV-to-EBITDA is essentially the enterprise value (EV) of a stock divided by its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). EV is the sum of a company’s market capitalization, debt and preferred stock minus cash and cash equivalents.

The other constituent of the ratio, EBITDA gives a clearer picture of a company’s profitability as it removes the impact of non-cash expenses like depreciation and amortization that dampen net earnings. It is also often used as a proxy for cash flows.

Just like P/E, the lower the EV-to-EBITDA ratio, the more appealing it is. A low EV-to-EBITDA ratio could signal that a stock is potentially undervalued.  

Unlike the P/E ratio, EV-to-EBITDA takes debt on a company’s balance sheet into account. Due to this reason, it is typically used to value potential acquisition targets. The ratio shows the amount of debt the acquirer has to bear. Stocks flaunting a low EV-to-EBITDA multiple could be seen as attractive takeover candidates.

Another key downside of P/E is that it can’t be used to value a loss-making entity. Moreover, a company’s earnings are also subject to accounting estimates and management manipulation. On the other hand, EV-to-EBITDA is difficult to manipulate and can also be used to value companies that are making loss but are EBITDA-positive.

EV-to-EBITDA is also a useful tool in measuring the value of companies that are highly leveraged and have a high degree of depreciation. It also allows the comparison of companies with different debt levels.

However, EV-to-EBITDA is also not without its shortcomings and alone cannot conclusively determine a stock’s inherent potential and future performance. The ratio varies across industries and is generally not appropriate while comparing stocks in different industries given their diverse capital spending requirements.

Thus, instead of solely banking on EV-to-EBITDA, you can club it with other key ratios in your stock investment toolkit such as price-to-book (P/B), P/E and price-to-sales (P/S) to uncover bargain stocks.

Screening Criteria

Here are the parameters to screen for bargain stocks:

EV-to-EBITDA 12 Months-Most Recent less than X-Industry Median: A lower EV-to-EBITDA ratio represents a cheaper valuation.

P/E using (F1) less than X-Industry Median: This metric screens stocks that are trading at a discount to their peers.

P/B less than X-Industry Median: A lower P/B compared with the industry average implies that the stock is undervalued.

P/S less than X-Industry Median: The lower the P/S ratio, the more attractive the stock is as investors will have to pay a smaller price for the same amount of sales generated by the company.

Estimated One-Year EPS Growth F(1)/F(0) greater than or equal to X-Industry Median: This parameter will help in screening stocks that have growth rates higher than the industry median. This is a meaningful indicator as decent earnings growth always adds to investor optimism.

Average 20-day Volume greater than or equal to 100,000: The addition of this metric ensures that shares can be traded easily.

Current Price greater than or equal to $5: This parameter will help in screening stocks that are trading at a minimum price of $5 or higher.

Zacks Rank less than or equal to 2: No screening is complete without the Zacks Rank, which has proven its worth since inception. It is a fundamental truth that stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) have always managed to beat adversities and outperform the market.

Value Score of less than or equal to B: Our research shows that stocks with a Value Score of A or B when combined with a Zacks Rank #1 or 2 offer the best upside potential.

Here are five of the 19 stocks that passed the screen:

Boise Cascade Company (BCC - Free Report) operates as a wood products manufacturer and building materials distributor. This Zacks Rank #1 stock has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 118.3% for the current year and a Value Score of A.

USA Truck, Inc. (USAK - Free Report) is engaged in the transportation of general commodity freight in interstate and foreign commerce. This Zacks Rank #1 company has expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 223.5% for the current year and a Value Score of A. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

PetroChina Company Limited (PTR - Free Report) is the largest integrated oil company in China. It engages in a broad range of petroleum-related products, services, and activities. This Zacks Rank #1 company has an expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 371.7% for the current year and a Value Score of A.

Berry Global Group, Inc. (BERY - Free Report) ) manufactures and distributes non-woven specialty materials, engineered materials and consumer packaging products in the market. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has expected year-over-year earnings growth of 19.6% for the current fiscal year and a Value Score of A.

MetLife, Inc. (MET - Free Report) is an insurance-based global financial services company, providing protection and investment products to a range of individual and institutional customers. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has expected year-over-year earnings growth rate of 15.8% for the current year and a Value Score of A.

You can get the rest of the stocks on this list by signing up now for your 2-week free trial to the Research Wizard and start using this screen in your own trading. Further, you can also create your own strategies and test them first before taking the investment plunge.

The Research Wizard is a great place to begin. It's easy to use. Everything is in plain language. And it's very intuitive. Start your Research Wizard trial today. And the next time you read an economic report, open up the Research Wizard, plug your finds in, and see what gems come out.

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Disclosure: Officers, directors and/or employees of Zacks Investment Research may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material. An affiliated investment advisory firm may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material.

Disclosure: Performance information for Zacks’ portfolios and strategies are available at: https://www.zacks.com/performance.