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Is Waddell & Reed (WDR) a Good Stock 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 Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. (WDR - 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, Waddell & Reed Financial also known as Waddell & Reed has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 7.9, as you can see in the chart below:

 

This level actually compares favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 17.85. If we focus on the long-term PE trend Waddell & Reed’s current PE level puts it below its midpoint over the past five years.

 

However, the stock's PE compares unfavorably with the Zacks - Finance sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 14.01. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively overvalued right now, compared to its peers.

 

We should also point out that Waddell & Reed has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of 10.66, which is tad higher than the current level. So, it is fair to expect an increase in the company’s share price in the near term.

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, Waddell & Reed has a P/S ratio of about 1.16. This is lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.23x 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, Waddell & Reed currently has a Value Score of B, putting it into the top 40% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes the stock a solid choice for value investors, and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too.

For example, its P/CF ratio comes in at 6.16, which is better than the industry average of 8.97. Clearly, the stock is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles.

What About the Stock Overall?

Though WDR 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 F and a Momentum Score of B. This gives WDR a Zacks VGM score — or its overarching fundamental grade — of C. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)

Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been mixed at best. The current quarter has seen no upward revision with two downward movements in the past sixty days. For the full year, the estimate has seen two upward revisions in the same time period with two movement in the opposite direction.

This has had an impact on the consensus estimate as the current quarter consensus estimate has plunged 10% in the past two months, while the full year estimate rose 5.3%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:

Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. Price and Consensus

This somewhat mixed trend is why the stock has just a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and why we are looking for in-line performance from the company in the near term.

Bottom Line

Waddell & Reed 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 35% of more than 250 industries) and Zacks Rank #3, instills our confidence.

However, over the past two years, the Zacks Financial - Investment Management industry has clearly underperformed the market at large, as you can see below:

 

So, value investors might want to wait for industry performance, 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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