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 Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) 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:
Staple’s PE Ratio is Favorable to the Market…
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, Staples has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 10.0, 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 20.5. If we focus on the stock’s long-term PE trend, the current level puts Staples’ current PE ratio below its midpoint over the past five years, with the number having falling rapidly over the past few months.
Further, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks classified Retail-Misc/Diversified industry’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 17.3. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.
We should also point out that Staples has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of just 9.85, so it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for Staples stock in the near term too.
…While Its P/S Ratio Comes in Low
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, Staples has a P/S ratio of about 0.3. This is fairly lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.1 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, SPLS 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, Staples currently has a Zacks Value Style Score of ‘A’, putting it into the top 20% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Staples a solid choice for value investors, and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too.
For example, its P/CF ratio (another great indicator of value) comes in at 6.14, which is far better than the industry average of 7.22.
Clearly, SPLS is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles, but we need a closer look before committing to SPLS stock…