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Is Zions Bancorporation (ZION) a Great Value Choice?

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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 Zions Bancorporation (ZION - 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, Zions has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 20.27, 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 compares in at about 20.36. If we focus on the stock’s long-term PE trend, the current level puts Zions’ PE ratio above its midpoint over the past five years.



Further, the stock’s PE is almost on par with the Zacks classified Banks-West industry’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 20.05.


We should also point out that Zions has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of 17.43, so it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for Zions stock in the near term too.

P/CF Ratio

An often overlooked ratio that can still be a great indicator of value is the price/cash flow metric. This ratio doesn’t take amortization and depreciation into account, so can give a more accurate picture of the financial health in a business.This is a preferred metric to some valuation investors because cash flows are (a) generally less prone to manipulation by the company’s management and (b) are less affected by variation in accounting policies between different companies.

The ratio is generally applied to find out whether a company’s stock is overpriced or underpriced with reference to its cash flows generation potential compared with its competitors. However, it is not commonly used for cross-industry comparison, as the average price to cash flow ratio varies from industry to industry.

In this case, Zions’ P/CF ratio of 14.88 is lower than the Zacks classified Banks-West industry average of 15.96, which indicates that the stock is somewhat undervalued in this respect.



Broad Value Outlook

In aggregate, Zions currently has a Zacks Value Style Score of ‘B’, putting it into the top 40% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Zions a good choice for value investors, and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too.

For example, the PEG ratio for is 1.87, a level that is lower than the industry average of 1.91. The PEG ratio is a modified PE ratio that takes into account the stock’s earnings growth rate. Clearly, ZION is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles.

What About the Stock Overall?

Though Zions 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 grade of ‘C’ and a Momentum score of ‘A’. This gives ZION a Zacks VGM score—or its overarching fundamental grade—of ‘B’. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)

Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been encouraging. The current quarter has seen three upward estimate revision in the past sixty days compared to one downward, while the current year estimate has seen eight upward and one downward revision in the same time frame.
 
As a result, the current quarter consensus estimate has risen by 1.6% in the past two months, while the full year estimate has inched lower by 0.8%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:

Zions Bancorporation Price and Consensus

This positive trend signifies bullish analyst sentiment, and its Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) indicates robust fundamentals and expectations of outperformance in the near term.

Bottom Line

Zions is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its good lineup of statistics on this front. Moreover, with a good industry rank (top 23% out of more than 250 industries) and a Zacks Rank #2, the company deserves attention right now. In fact, over the past one year, the Zacks Banks-West industry has clearly outperformed the broader market, as you can see below:



So, it might pay for value investors to delve deeper into the company’s prospects, as fundamentals indicate that this stock could be a compelling pick.

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