Ferrellgas Partners (NYSE: FGP) and Ion Geophysical (NYSE:IO) are both small-cap energy companies, but which is the superior business? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their profitability, dividends, institutional ownership, risk, valuation, earnings and analyst recommendations.

Dividends

Ferrellgas Partners pays an annual dividend of $0.40 per share and has a dividend yield of 8.7%. Ion Geophysical does not pay a dividend. Ferrellgas Partners pays out -72.7% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Ferrellgas Partners and Ion Geophysical’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Ferrellgas Partners $1.93 billion 0.23 -$54.20 million ($0.55) -8.33
Ion Geophysical $172.81 million 0.93 -$65.14 million ($3.00) -4.52

Ferrellgas Partners has higher revenue and earnings than Ion Geophysical. Ferrellgas Partners is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Ion Geophysical, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of recent recommendations and price targets for Ferrellgas Partners and Ion Geophysical, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Ferrellgas Partners 1 3 1 0 2.00
Ion Geophysical 0 0 0 0 N/A

Ferrellgas Partners presently has a consensus target price of $9.59, indicating a potential upside of 109.33%. Given Ferrellgas Partners’ higher probable upside, research analysts plainly believe Ferrellgas Partners is more favorable than Ion Geophysical.

Profitability

This table compares Ferrellgas Partners and Ion Geophysical’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Ferrellgas Partners -2.83% N/A -3.26%
Ion Geophysical -20.19% -102.40% -11.83%

Insider & Institutional Ownership

6.4% of Ferrellgas Partners shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 34.1% of Ion Geophysical shares are held by institutional investors. 0.5% of Ferrellgas Partners shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 15.2% of Ion Geophysical shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Risk & Volatility

Ferrellgas Partners has a beta of 0.59, indicating that its share price is 41% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Ion Geophysical has a beta of 3.82, indicating that its share price is 282% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Summary

Ferrellgas Partners beats Ion Geophysical on 10 of the 14 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Ferrellgas Partners

Ferrellgas Partners, L.P. is engaged in the retail distribution of propane and related equipment sales, and midstream operations, which include crude oil logistics. The Company’s segments include propane and related equipment sales, midstream operations-crude oil logistics, and corporate and other. The propane and related equipment sales segment consists of the distribution of propane and related equipment and supplies. The midstream operations-crude oil logistics segment is engaged in providing crude oil transportation and logistics services. The corporate and other segment includes midstream operations-water solutions. The Company’s two subsidiaries include Ferrellgas Partners Finance Corp. and the operating partnership. Its general partner performs all management functions for the Company and holds general partner interest in Ferrellgas Partners and the operating partnership. It is a distributor of propane and related equipment and supplies to customers in the United States.

About Ion Geophysical

ION Geophysical Corporation is a technology-focused company. It provides geophysical technology, services and solutions to the global oil and gas industry. Its offerings are designed to enable oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) companies to obtain images of the Earth’s subsurface. It offers services and products through three segments: E&P Technology & Services, E&P Operations Optimization, and Ocean Bottom Services. E&P Technology & Services provides services and products for complex and hard-to-image geologies, such as deepwater subsalt formations in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore East and West Africa and Brazil; unconventional reservoirs, such as those found onshore in shale, tight gas and oil sands formations, and offshore basin-wide seismic data and imaging programs. E&P Operations Optimization combines its Optimization Software and Services and Devices offerings. Ocean Bottom Services consists of OceanGeo, an ocean bottom data acquisition services company.

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