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

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Universal Logistics and Marten Transport’s top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Universal Logistics $1.07 billion 0.62 $24.24 million $0.23 102.17
Marten Transport $671.14 million 1.62 $33.46 million $0.61 32.62

Marten Transport has lower revenue, but higher earnings 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.

Profitability

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

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

Dividends

Universal Logistics pays an annual dividend of $0.28 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.2%. Marten Transport pays an annual dividend of $0.10 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.5%. 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. Marten Transport pays out 16.4% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Institutional & Insider Ownership

27.8% of Universal Logistics shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 68.5% of Marten Transport shares are held by institutional investors. 71.0% of Universal Logistics shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 23.0% of Marten Transport shares are held by 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.

Risk and Volatility

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

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of recent recommendations for Universal Logistics and Marten Transport, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

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

Universal Logistics presently has a consensus price target of $23.00, suggesting a potential downside of 2.13%. Marten Transport has a consensus price target of $15.00, suggesting a potential downside of 24.62%. Given Universal Logistics’ stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, equities analysts clearly believe Universal Logistics is more favorable than Marten Transport.

Summary

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

About Universal Logistics

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.

About Marten Transport

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.

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