Marten Transport (NASDAQ: MRTN) and Universal Logistics (NASDAQ:ULH) are both small-cap transportation companies, but which is the superior business? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their valuation, profitability, dividends, risk, institutional ownership, earnings and analyst recommendations.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Marten Transport and Universal Logistics’ gross revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Marten Transport $671.14 million 1.62 $33.46 million $0.61 32.79
Universal Logistics $1.07 billion 0.63 $24.24 million $0.23 103.91

Marten Transport has higher earnings, but lower revenue than Universal Logistics. Marten Transport is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Universal Logistics, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

68.5% of Marten Transport shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 27.8% of Universal Logistics shares are owned by institutional investors. 23.0% of Marten Transport shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 71.0% of Universal Logistics shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, hedge funds and endowments believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Dividends

Marten Transport pays an annual dividend of $0.10 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.5%. Universal Logistics pays an annual dividend of $0.28 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.2%. Marten Transport pays out 16.4% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Universal Logistics pays out 121.7% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current ratings and target prices for Marten Transport and Universal Logistics, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Marten Transport 0 2 0 0 2.00
Universal Logistics 0 2 1 0 2.33

Marten Transport currently has a consensus price target of $15.00, suggesting a potential downside of 25.00%. Universal Logistics has a consensus price target of $23.00, suggesting a potential downside of 3.77%. Given Universal Logistics’ stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe Universal Logistics is more favorable than Marten Transport.

Profitability

This table compares Marten Transport and Universal Logistics’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Marten Transport 4.87% 7.45% 5.04%
Universal Logistics 0.55% 11.59% 2.94%

Risk and Volatility

Marten Transport has a beta of 1.34, indicating that its share price is 34% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Universal Logistics has a beta of 1.57, indicating that its share price is 57% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Summary

Universal Logistics beats Marten Transport on 9 of the 16 factors compared between the two stocks.

Marten Transport Company Profile

Marten Transport, Ltd. is a temperature-sensitive truckload carrier. The Company focuses on transporting and distributing food and other consumer-packaged goods that require a temperature-controlled or insulated environment. The Company operates through four segments: Truckload, Dedicated, Intermodal and Brokerage. It operates throughout the United States and in parts of Canada and Mexico. The Company’s medium-to-long-haul traffic lanes are between the Midwest and the West Coast, Southwest, Southeast, and the East Coast, as well as from California to the Pacific Northwest. It provides regional truckload carrier services in the Southeast, West Coast, Midwest, South Central and Northeast regions. It also offers loading and unloading activities, equipment detention and other ancillary services. The Company’s Truckload segment provides a combination of regional short-haul and medium-to-long-haul full-load transportation services.

Universal Logistics Company Profile

Universal Logistics Holdings, Inc., formerly Universal Truckload Services, Inc., is an asset-light provider of customized transportation and logistics solutions across the United States, Mexico, Canada and Colombia. The Company operates through two segments: the transportation segment and the logistics segment. The Company’s operations aggregated in the transportation segment are associated with individual freight shipments coordinated by its agents, company-managed terminals and specialized services operations. The Company’s operations aggregated in the logistics segment deliver value-added services and transportation services to specific customers. Its other operating segments consist of the Company’s subsidiaries that provide support services to other subsidiaries and to owner-operators, including shop maintenance and equipment leasing. The Company groups its services into three service categories: transportation, value-added and intermodal support.

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