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Is Salem Media (SALM) a Great Pick for Value Investors?

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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 Salem Media Group, Inc. (SALM - 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, Salem Media has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 12. This level compares favorably with the market at large, as the PE ratio for the S&P 500 comes in at about 20.1.



If we focus on the long-term trend of the stock the current level puts Salem Media’s current PE among its lower zone, well below its median for the term (which stands at 15.4x). Hence, we could infer that the stock is undervalued in this respect, especially in light of its historical trend. Thus, the present level seems to be a suitable entry point for the stock from a PE perspective.

Further, the stock’s PE compares favorably with its industry’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 26.9. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.



PS 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, Salem Media has a P/S ratio of about 0.6. This is significantly lower than the industry average, which comes in at 9.1x right now.



If anything, SALM is in the lower end of its range in the time period from a P/S metric, suggesting some level of undervalued trading—at least compared to historical norms.

Broad Value Outlook

In aggregate, Salem Media currently has a Value Score of A, putting it into the top 20% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Salem Media a solid choice for value investors, and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too.

For example, Salem Media’s P/B ratio (used to compare a stock's market value to its book value) stands at 0.8, lower than the industry average of 1.7. Additionally, its P/CF ratio (another great indicator of value) comes in at 4.2, which is far better than the industry average of 7.4. Clearly, SALM is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles.

What About the Stock Overall?

Though Salem Media 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 D and a Momentum score of D. This gives SALM 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 earnings estimates have been trending downward lately. The current quarter has seen no estimate go higher in the past thirty days compared to one lower, while the full year estimate has seen no upward revisions and one downward revision in the same time period.

This has had meaningful impact on the consensus estimate as the current quarter consensus estimate has decreased 29.4% over the past month, while the full year estimate has moved down 23.1%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:

Salem Media Group, 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.

Bottom Line

Salem Media is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. However, with a sluggish industry rank (among the Bottom 38% out of more than 250 industries) and a Zacks Rank #3, it is hard to get too excited about this company overall. In fact, over the past two years, its 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.

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