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Is United Rentals a Great Stock for Value Investors?

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 United Rentals, Inc.URI 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, United Rentals has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 15.5, 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 stands at about 20.8. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, United Rentals' current PE level puts it above its midpoint over the past five years, with the number having risen rapidly over the past few months.

Further, the stock's PE also compares favorably with the broader industry's trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 19.2. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.

We should also point out that United Rentals has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year's earnings) of just 14.5, so it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for United Rentals stock in the near term too.

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, United Rentals has a P/S ratio of about 1.5. This is a bit lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.3x 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.

Broad Value Outlook

In aggregate, United Rentals currently has a Value Score of A, putting it into the top 20% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes USG Corporation a solid choice for value investors.

What About the Stock Overall?

Though United Rentals 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 B and a Momentum Score of B. This gives URI a Zacks VGM score - or its overarching fundamental grade - of A. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >> )

Meanwhile, the company's recent earnings estimates have been favorable. The current quarter has seen five estimates go higher compared to one lower in the past sixty days, while the full year estimate has seen six up and two down in the same time period.

This has had just a small impact on the consensus estimate though as both the current quarter and full year consensus estimate has jumped 2%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:

United Rentals, Inc. Price and Consensus

United Rentals, Inc. Price and Consensus | United Rentals, Inc. Quote

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

United Rentals 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 Bottom 21% of more than 250 industries) it is hard to get too excited about this company overall. In fact, over the past two years, the broader industry has clearly underperformed the market at large, as you can see below:

We believe, despite an unsatisfactory past industry performance, a good Zacks rank signal that the stock is likely to benefit from favorable broader factors in the immediate future. Add to this robust value metrics, and we believe that we have a strong value contender in United Rentals.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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