The Southern Company (SO) vs. At Guardant Health, Inc. (GH): Which one is Better Stock To Hold?

The shares of The Southern Company have increased by more than 35.95% this year alone. The shares recently went up by 0.88% or $0.52 and now trades at $59.71. The shares of Guardant Health, Inc. (NASDAQ:GH), has jumped by 103.51% year to date as of 09/11/2019. The shares currently trade at $76.50 and have been able to report a change of -5.85% over the past one week.

The stock of The Southern Company and Guardant Health, Inc. were two of the most active stocks on Wednesday. Investors seem to be very interested in what happens to the stocks of these two companies but do investors favor one over the other? We will analyze the growth, profitability, risk, valuation, and insider trends of both companies and see which one investors prefer.

Next 5Y EPS Growth: 2.18% versus 34.60%

When a company is able to grow consistently in terms of earnings at a high compound rate have the highest likelihood of creating value for its shareholders over time. Analysts have predicted that SO will grow it’s earning at a 2.18% annual rate in the next 5 years. This is in contrast to GH which will have a positive growth at a 34.60% annual rate. This means that the higher growth rate of GH implies a greater potential for capital appreciation over the years.

Profitability and Returns

Growth alone cannot be used to see if the company will be valuable. Shareholders will be the losers if a company invest in ventures that aren’t profitable enough to support upbeat growth. In order for us to accurately measure profitability and return, we will be using the EBITDA margin and Return on Investment (ROI), which balances the difference in capital structure. SO has an EBITDA margin of 36.85%, this implies that the underlying business of SO is more profitable. The ROI of SO is 5.20% while that of GH is -18.40%. These figures suggest that SO ventures generate a higher ROI than that of GH.

Cash Flow

The value of a stock is ultimately determined by the amount of cash flow that the investors have available. Over the last 12 months, SO’s free cash flow per share is a negative -3.32, while that of GH is also a negative -0.02.

Liquidity and Financial Risk

The ability of a company to meet up with its short-term obligations and be able to clear its longer-term debts is measured using Liquidity and leverage ratios. The current ratio for SO is 0.80 and that of GH is 10.60. This implies that it is easier for SO to cover its immediate obligations over the next 12 months than GH. The debt ratio of SO is 1.64 compared to 0.00 for GH. SO can be able to settle its long-term debts and thus is a lower financial risk than GH.

Valuation

SO currently trades at a forward P/E of 18.91, a P/B of 2.32, and a P/S of 2.83 while GH trades at a P/B of 8.35, and a P/S of 49.64. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, SO is the cheaper one. It is very obvious that earnings are the most important factors to investors, thus analysts are most likely to place their bet on the P/E.

Analyst Price Targets and Opinions

The mistake some people make is that they think a cheap stock has more value to it. In order to know the value of a stock, there is need to compare its current price to its likely trading price in the future. The price of SO is currently at a 5.38% to its one-year price target of 56.66. Looking at its rival pricing, GH is at a -37.19% relative to its price target of 121.80.

When looking at the investment recommendation on say a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being a strong buy, 3 a hold, and 5 a sell), SO is given a 3.20 while 1.30 placed for GH. This means that analysts are more bullish on the outlook for SO stocks.

Insider Activity and Investor Sentiment

Short interest or otherwise called the percentage of a stock’s tradable shares currently being shorted is another data that investors use to get a handle on sentiment. The short ratio for SO is 3.59 while that of GH is just 2.68. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for GH stock.

Conclusion

The stock of The Southern Company defeats that of Guardant Health, Inc. when the two are compared, with SO taking 4 out of the total factors that were been considered. SO happens to be more profitable, generates a higher ROI, has higher cash flow per share, higher liquidity and has a lower financial risk. When looking at the stock valuation, SO is the cheaper one on an earnings, book value and sales basis. Finally, the sentiment signal for SO is better on when it is viewed on short interest.